Top Tips for Preparing to Work with Interpreters

Now the business world is slowly emerging from it cocooned home office, and face-to-face meetings, conferences and negotiations are once again occurring, many of us will be using the services of interpreters to help us communicate with our foreign colleagues, guests and clients.

However, it may have been some time (almost two years have passed since the start of the covid pandemic) since last working with an interpreter, so we thought it wise to revisit (and revise) our top tips for preparing to work with interpreters.



1. Pre-Planning and Preparation for Interpreters

Even with the best laid plans things can go wrong but advance planning and preparation for working with interpreters is key to success.

Initially your planning and preparation for interpreters should consist of:

• What type of interpreting best suits your situation?

• What languages do you need?

• Do you require specialist interpreting equipment?

• What is your budget?

Once you’ve answered the questions above, you can then consider which interpreters you’d like to use and hire them for the role.

Give your chosen interpreters as much additional information about the event, speakers, participants, industry, topics, and so on, as you can so that they can make the right language choices and effectively communicate the intended message.

The information you give them should be made available to them at the earliest moment so they have time to prepare and can perform at their best.



2. Documents your Interpreters will Require

You want your interpreter to do a good job and in order to do this, they will need as much information as possible and they’ll need it in advance of the day.

The following list highlights what your interpreter will need and why.

• List of speakers/participants – when interpreting for a conference or complex meeting, a list of speakers or participants with a short bio (and photo if possible) about each individual should be given to the interpreters. They will use this to research each person and to give them a ‘sense’ of the person for whom they are interpreting. During a meeting it also means the interpreters know who is who!

• Speeches/notes – although interpreting is fairly impromptu, having a copy of the speech or notes for the meeting will allow your interpreters to prepare some of their work ahead of time. This gives a better end result and ensures that there is no confusion in meaning or context.

• Agenda – a copy of the planned agenda helps interpreters understand schedules, breaks, and planned timings.

• Background material – any additional information regarding subject matter, industry terminology, reports, previous meeting agendas, and so on, all help the interpreters gain insights into the cohorts and event.

• Website links – excellent as an additional source of information for interpreters about participants and industry insights.

• Contact details – this isn’t always necessary (or required) but if there are highly technical industry terms or the interpreter has a query about something, it is helpful to have a direct number to call or an email address in order to discuss it. One point of contact is often best as it saves time passing messages and waiting for responses.

• PowerPoint presentations – these can be helpful so that interpreters can prepare in alignment with slides and speeches.

• Audience Participation – if audience participation is expected at a conference, to which the interpreter will need to respond, let them know in advance. The opportunity to discuss potential topics with speakers before the event, or on the day, is advantageous.

• Q&A – your interpreters and speakers may have questions for each other. Give them the opportunity before the event to discuss any queries. It might be possible to do this on the day if time allows before the event. Also, if there is to be a Q&A session during the conference, make sure your interpreter knows this in advance and is fully prepared.



3. Other Factors to Consider for your Interpreters

Your interpreters will work hard on the day of your event or meeting to ensure you get the best language service possible.

Make sure they are comfortable and have everything they need from you on the day.

Show them where the facilities are, offer water or snacks, and explain any safety measures needed.

Consider covid precautions necessary to keep interpreters, additional staff and guests as safe as possible while still allowing for an intimate and friendly event.

Test equipment as early as possible on the day, not just for the speakers and interpreters but also any headsets for the audience or participants.

All professional interpreters are bound by confidentiality agreements so they understand the need for discretion and privacy. Any documents or information you give them will be safely stored until no longer required.


Any additional information you might need when using interpreting services can be found here.

Alternatively, you can contact a member of the Creative Word team, who will be more than happy to answer any questions.

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