A diagram that shows the equipment set-up to illustrate the question: What is simultaneous interpretation?

What is simultaneous interpretation?

When asking “What is simultaneous interpretation” we might be tempted to immediately dive into the technical details. We can assure you, that’s not what we will be doing here. In essence, simultaneous interpretation is a perfect solution for meetings where people come together with different native languages. The interpreters will lift the language barriers that exist so people can understand each other.

All participants speak their own language and hear what the others are saying in their own language. Simultaneous interpretation therefore enables real and interactive communication. Simultaneous interpretation combines the expertise of people (interpreters) with the right technology.

Why is simultaneous interpretation a good investment?

Whatever way you look at it, meetings are expensive. At the very least, you invest in the rental of space, in your own time and in the time of participants. If they are travelling in from far away, you will also need to factor in transportation, catering, and accommodation costs. All of this to have the opportunity to communicate.

Your investment will only be justified if that communication takes place in the best possible conditions. Thanks to simultaneous interpretation, all of the participants at your meeting will have the same freedom to choose the right words in the language that they feel at home in.

This contrasts sharply with meetings without simultaneous interpretation, where participants who are able to use their native language are always at an advantage.

Bringing in simultaneous interpreters also sends a message to the participants: “We value what you have to say”


Interpreting is translating what someone says. Ideally, that translation is so clear that the participants hardly even notice that interpreters are being used.

To achieve that clarity, however, the complex reality of interpretation must be given due attention. It is certainly useful for conference organisers to understand how interpreters work.

In order to have a successful meeting, organisers can also do some homework.

ISO standards

There are ISO standards for simultaneous interpretation, which relate to both the technical equipment (such as the booths) and the service aspects (such as the availability of a technician).


There are some stubborn misconceptions about the use of simultaneous interpretation, which are often based on preconceptions. We cover some of those in this article: 4 misconceptions about simultaneous interpretation

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