When to Bring an Interpreter to a Business Meeting
Having an interpreter at a business meeting can prove to be a huge asset when you are doing business with international clients and business prospects.
So, when is it appropriate to provide an interpreter to help you conduct international business more easily? When you’re dealing with clients that do not speak your language comfortably or at all you may find that there will be difficulty in getting your point across clearly.
Interpreters help to ease the burden of those communication hiccups that can truly make or break a deal. It’s important to find a company that has proven results with their interpreters and has a group of interpreters who are educated in interpretation and have experience under their belts. So, do your homework as you prepare to include interpretation services as part of your meeting.
The first thing that you want to do with your interpretation provider is conduct a pre-meeting to establish some good ground rules for the upcoming meeting. This will help to alleviate any miscommunication and help you to understand how to make the process of communicating through an interpreter more streamlined. For instance, you can inform them about the meeting structure as well as the meeting agenda. Find out how often you should pause in between sentences to help them interpret seamlessly, how seating should be arranged, and even the types of phrases and jargon that may not translate over easily to the language of choice.
When you have the meeting with the interpreter, allow them to understand what points will be key during your presentation or discussion. Provide your pitch or presentation ahead of time so that they can point out any potential issues in translation. This will allow you to tweak your verbiage in preparation for the process. If you plan on giving a speech, give the interpreter a copy so that they can familiarize themselves with the content and key points. This will help them to interpret with conviction and understanding.
When you’re holding a meeting with an interpreter involved, it cannot be rushed. Be prepared to have twice as much time blocked out for the meeting than you usually would so that it’s not a hurried process. Make your client and the interpreter as comfortable as possible, including having water and/or refreshments on hand.
You want to be succinct in your ideas and thoughts so that points will stand out boldly. Try your best to avoid humor, as that does not usually translate well and can lead to confusion instead of laughter. Remember, you’re speaking through an interpreter, but you’re getting your ideas across to the prospect or client, so keep them engaged at all times. Eye contact with your client is key, you want them to feel as though you are speaking directly to them, even though there is someone in the room that is interpreting your words into their language.
By following these guidelines, you can rest assured that you will have a relaxed, stress free environment as you conduct business with an international client through an interpreter. This will keep the tone of the room calm and that will easily be expressed through the interpreter on to your client, which is exactly what you want. Remember, the interpreter is there to make your job easier, so partner with them as if they were a business colleague, trust that they will relay your message with expertise, and don’t be nervous! Once you get the hang of it, working with an interpreter will become easier with time and your business dealings will only continue to expand as a result.
Let CCA help you plan your next international meeting. We will provide the interpretation tools to help you succeed.