Preparation is the Key to Successful Conference Interpreting

Whether you have an international conference or a company training, the presenters are experts in their field. They likely use complicated terminology specific to their subject. The listeners will benefit from years of study and experience in the subject matter being considered.

Now consider that a simultaneous interpreting team is required for the presentation. The interpreting team will be expected to maintain the pace with the speakers and instantly render the corresponding information and complicated terminology in the listeners’ language.

I can tell you that no interpreter has expert knowledge of all subjects! That is an impossible expectation. Therefore, it is essential that the interpreting team is given sufficient time to prepare. And please note that the interpreting team does not charge a separate fee for preparation time. What does the team require?

  1. A copy of the presentation: Yes, the whole presentation. If it is a PowerPoint presentation, send them a copy immediately along with any handouts or program available.  The sooner the team has it, the better. I can tell you that if we have this information a month ahead of time we will already begin to review the information. And there are interpreting teams who will rescind an assignment if the terms of providing materials before a certain date are breached.

Step one:  The team will review the information, identify words and concepts that require research.

Step two:  The team will create a glossary of those terms.

Step three:  The interpreting team will review the terminology daily.

Step four:  In anticipation of your event, the team will schedule uncompensated time to study and research your event’s subject matter to gain maximum knowledge.

Step five:  The interpreting team will need to ascertain as much information about both the speakers and the audience. Background information such as country of origin can be useful in learning their culture and utilizing expression common to them.

As you can see, the sooner you provide the necessary information, the more likely your event will have a successful outcome. Great interpreters will put forth way more effort into learning than what you pay them if you diligently provide them with the materials they need with plenty of time. It is a compulsion! Conference interpreting teams wish to produce the finest work they possibly can. Insufficient prep time is their biggest and most serious limitation.

  1. Meet the speaker ahead of time: Conference interpreters’ brains are constantly evaluating language. They can’t help it; it is their profession. If they can personally meet the speakers beforehand, they will carefully listen to their speech style and vocabulary. They will quickly investigate words that will be useful when it’s showtime.
  2. Preferred teammates are vital: Most conference interpreters not only have preferred teammates, but also have a Do Not Work With list. Some will even refuse to work if it is not with their preferred person, despite the fees paid.  For quality professional conference interpreters, their reputation is more important than one specific job. They know that working with one deficient interpreter can ruin their good reputation. Additionally, conference interpreters book quickly.  For this reason, please secure the interpreter teams as soon as you know your event requires them.  This allows composition of a team with preferred colleagues.

As you can see, allowing the conference interpreters time to compose the best team and research your topic will have astounding results and a very successful conference or meeting.

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