5 Tips for Successful Conference Interpreter Collaboration

Multilingual conferences require an extra level of planning to incorporate interpreting teams; they also have the potential for snafus. The purpose for the following tips are to assist the interpreting team(s) in performing a fantastic rendition of the speakers.  It not only makes for a smooth event, but also elevates the meeting planner to a rockstar! You’re paying these presenters.  These reminders should always be shared with conference presenters.  Get your money’s worth with these suggestions.

  1. Presentation Materials: PowerPoints, handouts, a copy of the speech, really just about any material available will allow interpreters in advanced preparation (interpreters do not charge for preparation time). The sooner information is provided to the team(s), the better the outcome for your event.  However, some presenters are notorious for finalizing presentations the night before. Drafts are vital immediately, and final copy as soon as available.  After all, if you have eight presenters, and all eight provide the final copy in the morning to the interpreters, the interpreting team will be unable to quickly review all eight.
  2. Meet the Interpreting Team: For conference interpreting success, it is advisable for the speakers to invest time ahead of time to meet the interpreters. This affords the conference interpreters, who are always working, an opportunity to familiarize themselves with each speakers’ voice.  In turn, that brief introduction and conversation will actually allow the team to quickly familiarize itself with mannerisms and speech patterns of the presenters.
  3. Don’t Speak Rapidly: Remember that interpreters simultaneously render what is being said in real time. They must attentively listen, memorize, comprehend, and process in the source language (the speaker), then recall, translate, generate, and render the message into the target language seamlessly. Be kind, give them time!
  4. Don’t Mumble or Speak Too Slowly: Interpreters cannot interpret what they cannot hear or understand. Clear enunciation by presenters will enable the interpreting team in the booth to hear and understand.  Then it can broadcast the rendition correctly as intended.
  5. Idioms and slangs: Please try to avoid idioms and slang (at least sports and uncommon ones) that are often very difficult to translate. For instance many talented interpreters might not know that “Dad gum it!” means “darn it”, unless they are from the south. Otherwise, this could cause a delay with the interpretation as the team pauses to understand the statement before selecting an appropriate rendition. Although we typically have glossaries in our arsenal, slang can be pernicious for interpreting renditions. However, if a glossary of idiomatic expressions are provided beforehand or in draft materials, the interpreting team can research similar expressions in the target language. If not, please use neutral words and expressions understood across borders.

Following these five simple reminders will go a long way to creating a

memorable successful multilingual event!

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1 thought on “5 Tips for Successful Conference Interpreter Collaboration”

  1. I would really like to thank you for sharing this such amazing content with us. The 3rd & 4th points are the most important in the content “Don’t Speak Rapidly” & “Don’t Mumble or Speak Slowly”. Every interpreter should keep these points in mind, neither to speak fast and loud or slow and mumble. This could create an understanding problem for the jury and client.

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