Conference Interpreting - Tips On Hiring A Translation Company

So you have an event springing up, and you know it will have some participants who cannot speak English. You tried enrolling in a crash course in Japanese, but somehow it was harder than you realized. What will you attempt next?

Possibly the best strategy should be to call a service that specializes in supplying simultaneous interpreters and related equipment for simultaneous interpreting at conferences. Even though the term simultaneous translation is frequently used, strictly speaking, that's a misnomer. Translation signifies "written" form, whereas interpretation refers to the spoken word.

It is advisable to ensure that you ask for simultaneous interpretation, in place of consecutive interpretation. Simultaneous interpreting allows the meeting to proceed at full pace. The listeners will each wear a small headphone or ear piece that lets them hear the interpreter's voice while the meeting is going on. Consecutive interpretation, conversely, slows the meeting down to half speed, since the speaker must temporarily halt after each sentence in order for the interpreter to translate.

The interpreting company you make contact with will ask you questions about your event:

-- What are the languages?

-- What is the subject matter of the conference?

-- What is the total number of listeners for each language?

-- How many audience members will be in the room?

-- Who will the audience be?

Let the prospective interpreting service provider ask you the questions - it's a good way to be certain that they know what they are doing. Many translation providers specialize in other areas of language work -- try to look for one that specializes in conference interpreting. Be as specific and precise as you can in your answers.

Be certain that the company will be providing professional conference interpreters. There are several styles of interpreting. Many interpreters who are excellent at, for instance, court interpreting, are poor conference interpreters.

The interpreters also need to be familiar with your subject matter. A medical interpreter may be able to explain the insides of a person, but can be clueless about the insides of a computer. Each subject area, especially a technical one, has its own inherent jargon that can be baffling to interpreters not familiar with that specific arena.

Conference interpreters usually work as a team of two people per language (or occasionally, three per language in high-stress settings). Don't attempt to scrimp by getting a single interpreter, it frequently backfires -- an interpreter who's willing to work solo at an all-day meeting is usually not very experienced. Remember, your attendees may have spent thousands to be at your conference. You need them to be able to understand and appreciate it, so next time they'll come back with their associates.

It's wise to obtain quotes from many companies, but it's not a good idea to make a decision just on cost. Interpreters are not like boxes of cornflakes -- each interpreter is different. Each interpreter has a unique set of strengths and weaknesses.

Matching the right interpreters to the right conference environment is a skill that takes many years to master, Choose a firm that you trust to make the best choice for you.


Chris Redish - About the Author :
Chris Redish has owned A Bridge Between Nations, an international conference interpreting company, for 15 years.