30 Jun /15

Need an Interpreter? Four Ways to Prepare

Unlike translation, which involves the transfer of a text from one language into another, interpreting involves the transfer of spoken language. This ranges from an accurate rendering of each sentence to a summary of the whole message. Professional interpreters have to work with a sustained high-level of concentration. They listen intently to a speaker then rapidly reformulate the information into the target language for the client; there is no time for dictionaries or to ask for clarification. It is challenging work that requires a mix of professional linguistic skills, expert subject knowledge, and a high degree of mental stamina.

Interpreting skills alone, however, do not guarantee success. For an assignment to run smoothly, careful planning is essential, especially when more than one interpreter will attend and event and audio equipment is required. Language services providers offer the dual benefit of interpreter selection and project management, but clients can also prepare for the assignment—here’s how:

1. Consider the type of interpreting you need

Our advice: Many people are unfamiliar with the different types of interpreting. If you want an interpretation delivered as a speaker is talking, you will require a simultaneous interpreter. At conferences, simultaneous interpreters sit in special soundproof booths and provide immediate interpretation to the client via a headset. A consecutive interpreter, however, provides a summary of what a speaker has said, either during pauses in a talk or at the end. Consecutive interpreting may be more suitable for events such as small business meetings. Here, an interpreter might listen to a speaker, inform their client what the speaker said, then listen to the client’s response and interpret this for the original speaker.

Remember! Simultaneous interpreting at conferences requires at least two interpreters whereas consecutive interpreting normally requires only one. This is because simultaneous interpretation is so intensive that regular breaks and a change of interpreter are essential to maintain the quality of the interpretation. For the kind of consecutive interpreting described above, allow enough time in the meeting for all information to be repeated—talk-time is effectively going to double.

2. Provide as much detail as possible

Our advice: Clients must provide details about their event, especially the subject matter since this forms an important part of the interpreter selection process. Interpreting is not a one-size-fits-all profession and using an interpreter with the appropriate area of expertise is essential for high-quality interpreting. The interpreter still has to prepare, however, so it’s extremely helpful if a client can provide reference materials for the interpreters so they can familiarise themselves with any client-specific terminology or specific topics for discussion. This could include website links, annual reports, speaker scripts, or any other relevant materials.

Don’t forget! Details of the venue, agenda, dress code, and if there is a preference for a male or female interpreter should also be provided, as soon as possible.

3. Be aware of the technical demands

Our advice: Simultaneous interpreting requires audio equipment, which includes a headset and microphone for the interpreter, a headset for the client and a sound system. Simultaneous interpreters at large conferences need to work in soundproof booths, so if a venue doesn’t have this facility, portable table-top booths will be required instead. It is, therefore, critical that a language services provider is able to provide the appropriate equipment for an event.

Remember! It’s also important that the client understands potential technical requirements. These could include a site visit by a technician to check a venue’s facilities, including its PA system, prior to the event.

4. Allow enough time to prepare

Our advice: In an ideal situation, a large conference interpreting assignment would come with around three to four weeks’ notice. Smaller assignments require less notice, but always benefit from adequate planning time. For urgent interpreting, EVS Translations has the advantage of being well-connected with a large community of professional interpreters, who may be able to attend events at short notice.

Don’t forget! With all the skill in the world, an interpreter can’t perform their work effectively if an assignment has been poorly planned. Good project management ensures this doesn’t happen and it’s clear input from the client that helps this process.

EVS Translations provides interpreting for business events and political conferences. If you require a team of simultaneous interpreters for an international conference, a consecutive interpreter for business negotiations or more information about how EVS Translations provides interpreting services to global businesses and NGOs, contact us today.