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How to work with an interpreter

When it comes to meetings, conferences or phone calls with an international audience, hiring an interpreter to provide instant translations for attendees is essential to get everyone on the same page. With society becoming increasingly multicultural and polylinguistic, there has never been a greater need for people to understand each other, in any circumstances. In the USA, the interpretation and translation industry has doubled in size since 2011, with further growth expected by 2025.

So as more and more people make use of interpreters to provide oral translation during events, there is an increasing chance of businesses or private individuals making mistakes when working with an interpreter. Consequently, client expectations need to be managed appropriately; here is the London Translations guide on how to work with an interpreter.

Choose the right interpreter for your needs

First of all, you need to do your research to find the right translation agency; hiring an interpreter through an experienced company such as London Translations guarantees the best quality interpreting in any language, at competitive prices. But no matter who you choose, there is no such thing as simply “hiring an interpreter”, with different methods of interpreting best suiting certain situations.

Virtual interpretation is available for instant messenger conversations, phone calls, or video conferencing, with a maximum of six language pairs able to be translated simultaneously. For face-to-face situations, which interpreter you hire depends on the size of your meeting or event; small (or one-to-one) meetings are best served with whispering interpreters, who can provide personal linguistic support for those who need it.

Consecutive (or “listen before talk”) interpreters do their work by repeating the main speaker’s words in a target language, and are ideally suited for presentations or larger meetings. Those looking for conference interpreters would be best served by simultaneous interpretation; the only one of these three options which necessitates technical equipment like earpieces, it is ideally suited for large groups.

Regardless of what type of interpreting you require, take the time to organise an interview with any candidates. This will allow you to confirm the experience and knowledge of your translator, both in terms of your desired language pairing and the sector in which your business (and your conference) is based. For example, if you are giving a medical translation, there’s no point hiring an interpreter whose primary experience is in engineering.

Brief your interpreters

Once you have hired an interpreter, they will need to be informed of the context of what they will be translating in advance of the day; this is another reason why a screening interview is a beneficial part of the process. For example, briefing a conference interpreter with the details of your speech a few days in advance will familiarise them with the material, and give them the opportunity to ask any questions to clear up any potential misunderstandings.

Make your interpreter’s job easy

It isn’t just making your interpreter aware of a meeting’s subject matter in advance which will make them more comfortable with doing their job; anyone whose words are being interpreted should be briefed in advance to make their speeches in an easily-interpretable format. This means keeping any idiomatic language to a minimum, and making any humorous moments as easily-understandable as possible.

Make time allowances

Of course, regardless of what type of interpreter you hire, you will need to ensure that your meeting room or general schedule is adapted to fit in the additional time the interpretation takes. Similarly, if you are enlisting the help of a simultaneous conference interpreter, you should find a way to communicate non-verbally with them in order to make sure everything is going according to plan during the speech. Developing and agreeing upon gestures to determine when you will need to slow down, speak up, or simply pausing altogether to give them time to catch up is essential in order to keep your meeting running smoothly, and reduces the risk of things overrunning

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