How to Help your Interpreter Prepare for Meetings

Interpreters should be heard, not seen (or at the very least, hardly noticed) but without preparation in advance of a meeting, this outcome is unlikely.

You’ll need to help your interpreter prepare if you expect an accurate, problem-free, fluid interpretation during your meeting and this is true whether the meeting is face-to-face in a board room or a hospital, over the phone or via video link.

Below you’ll find our top tips for helping your interpreter prepare for your meeting, and some useful information about how interpreters work.


What is Interpreting?

Interpreting is the process of translating one spoken language (the source language), into another (known as the target language).

An interpreter should have an excellent grasp of both the languages and the cultures in order to be able to give an informed and accurate translation which conveys the original message without necessarily being a word-for-word translation.

The interpreter will shape and mould the source language, rendering it into a finished piece which consists of all the required information and is based upon experience of the languages, cultures, and context.

The more knowledge an interpreter has prior to the meeting, the better informed and educated their interpretation will be.


What Types of Interpretation are there?

There are 2 main types of interpreting available:

• Consecutive Interpretation – This method of interpreting is when someone speaks for a short period of time and an interpreter would listen carefully. Depending on the length of time someone speaks, the interpreter may take notes and then either summarise or relays the essence of what was said to a third party. Consecutive interpreting is often carried out in small groups and can be used for business meetings, interviews and press conferences,

• Simultaneous Interpreting – This type of interpreting services is ideal for conferences or international meetings. The interpreter relays translations in real time so it’s the ideal choice for interpreting at conferences and legal hearings. With simultaneous interpreting, it’s necessary to request at least two interpreters working in alternating 20-minute intervals due to the mental strain and fatigue of this form of interpreter service. Simultaneous interpreting is best used in conferences, seminars, international meetings, or legal hearings.

There are two other types of interpreting which use the methods above but are generally reserved for when the interpreter, or one or more of the speakers are absent, these are:

• Telephone Interpreting – is a convenient and quick solution which allows people to communicate effectively without the need for all parties to be in the same location. It takes place anytime and anywhere, minimising the costs for your business. With telephone interpreting you will have full and complete language support without any geographical limitations. Telephone interpreting is especially useful for emergency calls, conference calls, interviews, surveys, and unscheduled calls.

• Video Interpreting – is similar to telephone interpreting but uses video equipment so you have visual and audio feeds. Interpreters don’t need to travel so they are readily available whenever you need them most. Video interpreting can be useful for multi-lingual training courses, online interpreting, multi-lingual client video conferencing, interviews, and surveys. The need for video interpreting increased dramatically during the Covid pandemic when most people around the world were working form home yet still needed to conduct essential business.



How to Help your Interpreter Prepare for your Meeting

If you have ever used an interpreter before you’ll probably have some idea of the level of preparation which an interpreter undergoes in order to be ready as you were likely bombarded with requests for additional information, documents, minutes, and so on.

This isn’t the interpreter being nosey – they just need as much information as they can before the meeting so that they are fully prepped ahead of time and can deliver a quality service to you on the day.

The following list covers most of the typical items an interpreter should ask for before your meeting, and if they don’t, consider using a different interpreter!

• Agenda – showing schedule, timings, discussion sessions, and so on, so that your interpreter can plan ahead and ensure they can cover everything required

• Speaker resume/list of participants – for background research, and for individuality when speaking to participants

• List of businesses/organizations involved

• Websites – are very helpful when researching tone of voice and brand principles of organizations and participants

• Terminology guide – if your industry is highly technical, it is worth giving as much information regarding terminology as possible in advance, especially if your interpreter has limited industry knowledge

• Reports – previous meeting information/industry related information

• Background material – including important information about the participants and the event itself. For example, white papers, corporate information, and information that participants have received regarding the event/meeting

• Speeches – or presentations and PowerPoints should be given where possible as it gives additional context to your interpreter

• Additional information – this might include things such as, possible Q&A sessions, point of contact for interpreter, availability of interpreting equipment, or confidentiality agreements

If there is anything else you think your interpreter should know before the event, do tell them. Most interpreters would prefer to have too much information, as opposed to not enough!

Your interpreter will give a more polished and accurate interpretation by using the items listed above, so while it might seem like a lot of information (and more work for you), it can save you hassle and time in the long run.

Interpreting is all about communication – contact a member of the Creative Word team to start the conversation about your interpreting requirements.

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