Picture of a meeting where the are working with interpreters

Working with interpreters: 9 keys to success

Working with interpreters means working with professionals who strive to deliver the best possible service to their customers. People rely on the interpreters when listening to a speaker with a different native language. They expect the interpretation to be accurate and to relay the subtleties of the original language as reliably as possible.

However, the success of the event does not only depend on the work of the interpreters. The event organizer can contribute significantly to the quality of the interpretation and therefore there are a few things to keep in mind.

What you should know when working with interpreters

1. Output requires input

Interpreters are very dependent on their equipment. All of the information that they require to know what to say (and do) must reach them in their sound-proof booth. This means not only that the equipment must be installed and functioning – duvall takes care of that – but also that it is correctly used by the participants and the chair of the meeting. Our technicians will provide any assistance necessary.

2. Interpreters must be able to focus

Simultaneous interpretation is an exceptionally demanding activity; interpreters must be able to concentrate deeply when they are working. Anything that distracts the interpreters when they are interpreting is harmful to the quality of the interpretation; hence the importance of using high-quality sound-proof booths when working with interpreters.

3. One booth, several interpreters

An interpreters’ booth is usually staffed by more than one interpreter at the same time. The interpreters must be able to take over from each other quickly and they often help each other out with specific things such as translating figures.

4. Interpreting is a matter of interpretation

Interpreters do not simply translate sentences, but translate what the speaker is trying to convey. In order to correctly assess the specific meaning of a sentence, an interpreter must always have the same information as the average participant in the meeting. That means that he or she must be able to see the speaker, the meeting room and the presentation, either via a monitor or in some other way.

5. Preparation improves the interpretation

All organisations have their own ‘jargon’, such as job descriptions, abbreviations, and concepts that sound familiar to outsiders but to insiders refer to matters that can be complex and sometimes quite sensitive.

When working with interpreters, it is useful to inform them about those kinds of things in advance. That will save them having to spend a lot of time during the meeting trying to figure out what a speaker actually means, and they can consider in advance how they are going to deal with certain concepts that are specific to an organisation.

6. Documentation in advance

Are the speakers’ texts available in advance? If so, you can provide them to the interpreters. Or (if the PowerPoint presentations end up being too big), you can make it possible for them to download them from your website or ours. Providing the minutes of previous meetings can also be useful.

7. How many interpreters and booths do you need?

Working with interpreters also means determining the right amount of interpreters and booths. Too many interpreters than needed weighs on the budget, and not enough interpreters is detrimental to the success of the event.

Therefore, tell us what you want to do and we will advise you on what you need for the simultaneous interpretation. The following can be used as a rule of thumb: for meetings lasting less than an hour, one interpreter is usually sufficient. A meeting with four languages usually requires three booths, each housing two interpreters.

8. Mother tongue

The ideal situation is, of course, for interpreters to work exclusively into their native language. That is also expensive, however, and usually not really necessary. In general, we are working with interpreters who work both into their mother tongue and a relay language.

9. Source language and ‘working in relay’

If many languages are involved, the interpreters usually agree on using a relay language. That means that the interpreters for the less-common languages work into English (or French). That brings the number of interpreters (and therefore also the cost) down to a manageable level. Often, this is also the only solution, as you cannot always find interpreters for all conceivable language combinations.

How do you find interpreters?

duvall has an extensive network of interpreters that is monitored intensively, based on client feedback. We know which interpreters have experience with medical, legal, technical or other specialised subjects.

We try to assign the same interpreters to returning clients: if the interpreter knows the client, the quality of the work will be better. If you already have a good relation with specific interpreters, you can contact them yourselves, of course.

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