How To Get The Most From Your Interpreter
Do you want to make the most of your professional interpreters and their time? Be sure to take the time to get to know your professional interpreting team before an event. This one small but relevant step will create a streamlined and connected relationship energy between your team and the interpreters, contributing to a more unified and personalized message broadcast to your target audience.
Without a proper introduction, background information, and the opportunity to get on the same page as your team, the overall quality of interpretations may suffer – and that’s the last thing you want as you build multinational relationships, expand your market, or work to train your most recent (or prospective) acquisitions as they come on board.
Tips for getting the most out of your team of interpreters
While the quality of interpretation depends on the interpreters’ qualifications and experience, there are other factors that lead to a successful experience. The more the interpreter knows about your company, its brand persona, niche information, event specifics, and the people s/he’ll be working with, the more fluid the interpretation process will be. And the more you understand about the professional interpreting process, the more prepared you will be to ensure process unfolds smoothly.
We’ve put together these tips to help you as you prepare to use interpreters for your next event:
Don’t assume your interpreter can do translations
Often, business professionals assume interpretation and translation skills are interchangeable. This is not the case, and choosing the wrong type of language service professional for the job, or assuming the person will do double duty is not a wise choice. Many professional interpreters do not feel comfortable with written translations, and the majority of translators are not trained conference interpreters.
Your best bet is to work with a language solutions firm that can provide a menu of services to cover all your event may require, both now and down the road, and who can help you determine which services you need so you’re adequately provided for.
Get to know your interpreters ahead of time
Relationships matter in every aspect of good business or partnerships, and the same is true for your business team and its interpreters. The more of a rapport you can develop – even if you’re only able to have a short briefing period before an event – the better feel interpreters will get for your company and its representatives. This makes it easier to “speak in your voice,” when your messages are interpreted across various languages and cultures.
Share as many materials as possible ahead of time
Try to share materials related to the event ahead of time so that the interpreters will understand about the macro- and micro-aspects of the task(s) at hand.
Things to consider sharing include:
- Background documents, such as:
- any materials describing your company, its mission and the brand
- links to websites and social media accounts
- itineraries, schedules and venue information
- Information specifically pertaining to the event in question, such as:
Consider asking the interpreter or project manager which materials will be useful to receive beforehand as each interpreter may have a different way of preparing for upcoming events, and may have specific requests.
Create a glossary and style guide
Does your company have an existing glossary and/or style guide? Make sure to share it with your interpreter. Glossaries and style guides are living documents that highlight vocabulary, technical terms, expectations, preferred interpretations/translations, terminology do’s and don’ts, and more, and they continue to evolve over time. Their use ensures the interpreter team is aware of key information that would take a long time to hone in on otherwise.
Hire a team of two or more simultaneous interpreters
Often, companies planning to hire interpreters believe one interpreter is enough. In fact, professional simultaneous conference interpreters insist on working in teams of two, or for some languages even three, a standard endorsed by the industry to minimize interpreter fatigue, therefore ensuring quality. In fact, consider it a red flag if you’re offered a single simultaneous interpreter for a full day meeting, or for that matter, any meeting over 30-45 minutes. Simultaneous interpreting is a very demanding process, requiring mental gymnastics of sorts. In order to remain fresh, accurate and alert, interpreters need to work in teams, to relieve each other at frequent intervals and constantly help each other with research and terminology. The interpreters determine this interval based on how challenging the material is, how fast the speakers are going, and other factors. Unlike consecutive interpreting, which takes place at a slower pace, and offers the opportunity for questions, clarifications and/or repeats, simultaneous interpretation allows no room to “press pause.” Interpreter fatigue can lead to mistakes, inaccuracies or interpretations that sound choppy or stunted – or wind up with glaring omissions.
Learn more about consecutive interpretation etiquette ahead of time
Consecutive interpretation is used most often in smaller gatherings or for more intimate social events, like dinners and small business meetings. To learn more about your options, we suggest you read “Selecting the ideal mode of interpretation for your meeting.”
Consecutive interpretation is like a conversational game of ping-pong, with extra paddles in the mix – you speak, and your interpreter repeats what you said in the target language, and back, as an intermediary between those who can’t understand each other. As a result, there are things you should do to facilitate this process, so the interpretation remains clear and fluid, free of any conversational jumble.
To enhance the effectiveness (and accuracy) of consecutive interpretation services:
- Make eye contact and speak directly to your target audience member (not the interpreters).
- Speak more slowly (but not awkwardly so) and use shorter sentences and phrases so interpreters can easily keep up without interrupting or asking you to repeat something.
- Try to minimize slang, metaphors or idioms as these may not have an equivalent in the target language, making it difficult to interpret naturally.
- Allow one person to speak at a time, and avoid interruptions or side notes, to keep things less confusing.
- Include pauses after sentences and/or complete thoughts.
It may feel a little strange at first, since it won’t flow exactly like a “normal” conversation, but within a short time your interpreted conversation will take on a natural rhythm of its own.
Please contact Chang-Castillo and Associates to learn more about interpretation etiquette and to work with a language services provider who walks you through recommended protocols, allowing your interpreters to do the very best job possible for you and your brand.