Working With Interpreters

Working With Interpreters

There are a number of different types of interpreting – see our glossary of terms for further explanation.

Here is some practical advice on the type of interpreter you will need:


Meeting a foreign partner

You need a liaison interpreter who works without equipment and who enables you to converse directly with the person you are dealing with.


Meeting several foreign partners/going on a factory visit

You need a liaison or simultaneous interpreter. This interpreter will either whisper for up to two listeners, or will need to be equipped with a tour-guide system (transmitter and headsets) to interpret for a large number.


Organising a small meeting with foreign visitors

In this case the interpreters can work with a tour-guide system. Two interpreters will be necessary if the work-time exceeds one hour, as they will work in approximately 20 minute turns.


Organising a conference lasting one or more days

Here you require fully trained Conference Interpreters and not Business Interpreters who do not have conference interpreting training. Simultaneous interpreting must be used here. For this interpreting to be seamless, booths must be provided to isolate the interpreters. A technician must be employed to control the sound and manage the headsets which enable participants to choose the language they want to hear. This equipment and the associated services are available for hire. Some business conference venues can offer the service as part of the conference package.


Organising a small but prestigious conference

You will need conference interpreters, using simultaneous interpreting with booths.


When you have organised the type of interpreter you require, here are some tips on how to work with them to get the best results:


Provide a brief

Make sure the interpreter has enough information about the proposed conversation prior to the appointment to allow them time to carry out on necessary research and check on relevant terminology.

Speak clearly

Be aware of any accent you may have and your style of speech. Everybody thinks they speak clearly, but not everybody does. It’s a case of tuning in to how you sound, speaking more slowly if necessary and avoiding any ambiguity. Forming clear and precise sentences will ensure the message is transferred successfully.

Talk to your client

Remember that you are addressing the non-English speaking client, not the interpreter. Maintain eye contact with them and address them as you normally would, using “you” rather than “”he” or “she”. The interpreter is trained to work in this way and will maintain the same form of address when talking to your client.

Organise the meeting space

As far as is practical, make sure that the interpreter can see everybody’s face and that he/she can hear properly. Background noises can make the job difficult and issues like this should be taken into account, particular with assignments such as factory visits.

Think about the delivery

For the different types of interpreting, you may need to adjust the way you deliver your speech.

If the interpreter is delivering simultaneous or whispered interpreting leave a short pause after every couple of sentences to give them time to catch up. – remember some languages need more words than others to convey the same message.

If the interpreter is delivering consecutive interpreting, make sure you finish the thought before you stop, so that the interpreter can complete the message.

If the interpreter is delivering business or liaison interpreting, make sure you keep sentences short and stop after every couple of phrases to allow the interpreter to convey the message.

Wait for a response

In a two-way conversation situation, make sure you allow the interpreter time to convey the full message from your client before you respond. Try to avoid interrupting the interpreter as the vital information from your client could be at the end of the sentence.

Allow more time

Don’t forget that an interpreted conversation is likely to take longer, so make sure you allocate enough time for the meeting to ensure you can cover everything you need and don’t have to cut the meeting short.

Respect the interpreter’s role

Remember that the interpreter’s role is to relay information between two languages and cultures. They should not be asked to undertake any other roles and under no circumstances should they be left alone with the client or asked to communicate with them directly.

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