Conference Interpreting Teamwork

Most people have very little idea what is involved in conference interpreting. They hire, sign the contract, and move on to the other multitude of details needed to host an event. However, being aware of some of the challenges can help you make the right choice when hiring professional conference interpreters.


You receive a quote from a conference interpreter and the price tag blows your mind! Questions begin to arise.

  1. Why do you need two interpreters per language?
  2. Why can’t one just do it?
  3. Why are they so expensive?
  4. Why is the equipment so expensive?
  5. Oh, those hotel expenses and airplane tickets and meals! They are so expensive! This is ridiculous!

You reason that surely there must be a way to save some money.

  1. Simultaneous interpreting is an extremely rigorous and mentally taxing profession.  Therefore, once you secure the most qualified interpreter for your event, you’ll need a second one.
  2. Due to cognitive fatigue, interpreters work in pairs, typically taking turns every twenty to thirty minutes.
  3. A professional team must be able to work well together in order to ensure a seamless delivery. They need to be skilled, compatible, and flexible.
  4. The booth(s) and advanced sound equipment are vital, requiring an AV technician for installation, testing, and troubleshooting when technical difficulties arise.
  5. As mentioned in a previous blog, perhaps some of the travel costs can be reduced by contracting locally.

With determination, you realize there isn’t much you can do. But wait, what if you hire the experienced interpreter and then pair her with a second interpreter who provided a lower bid?


Most skilled, professional interpreters already have one or two conference interpreters with whom they prefer to work Believe me, you want a team that has already worked out the kinks. When a mismatched or ill-paired interpreting team is in a booth, you create a hot mess.  And hot mess is not synonymous with a successful event.

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