Simultaneous Interpreting and How It's Used - By: Chris Redish

So you've got a conference approaching, and you know there will be some participants who don't speak English. You tried taking a crash course in Chinese, but somehow it was much harder than you realized. What are you going to consider next?

Most likely the best plan would be to call a business that specializes in providing simultaneous interpreters and equipment for simultaneous interpreting at conferences. Although the term simultaneous translation is frequently used, in fact, that is a misnomer. Translation means "written" form, whereas interpretation describes the spoken word.

It is advisable to ensure that you ask for simultaneous interpretation, instead of consecutive interpretation. Simultaneous interpreting allows the gathering to proceed at full pace. The listeners will each wear a small headphone or earpiece that permits them to hear the interpreter's voice while the meeting is going on. Consecutive interpretation, in contrast, slows the meeting down to half speed, because the speaker must temporarily stop after each sentence in order for the interpreter to translate.

The interpreting company you connect with will ask you questions regarding your event:

-- What languages will be spoken?

-- Who will the audience be?

-- What is the subject matter?

-- What number of audience members will each language have?

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

Let the prospective interpreting company ask the questions - it's a great way to make sure that they know what they are doing. Many translation companies focus on other areas of language work -- find one that focuses on conference interpreting. And be as specific and precise as possible with your answers.

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

The interpreters must be familiar with your subject material. A medical interpreter can probably 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 challenging to interpreters not familiar with that distinct arena.

Conference interpreters more often than not work as a team of two people per language (or occasionally, three per language in high-stress environments). Don't try to cut corners by working with a single interpreter, it often backfires -- an interpreter who is willing to work solo at an all-day meeting is typically not very experienced. Remember, your participants may have spent thousands of dollars to be at your event. You need them to be able to understand and enjoy it, so next time they'll come back with their associates.

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

Matching interpreters to potential clients is an art that takes many years of practice. Choose a firm that you trust to make the best selection for you.

Some tips for making sure your simultaneous interpretation meeting goes without problems:

1) Ensure your interpreters can see those who are speaking - position them so they have a good view of the stage or podium, or set up video screens for them instead.

2) Place the booths on risers when you can -- this helps to make sure their view is not blocked by the audience.

3) Make use of a full booth whenever your budget allows -- it makes life a lot easier for both the interpreters and the audience.

4) Be sure to use an interpreting technician! Good interpreting technicians are a most important ingredient in the success of your meeting. We have discovered that regular AV technicians and well-meaning volunteers cannot replace an interpretation technician without thorough training.

5) Select a firm that specializes in translation equipment. More generic translation services will often purchase a small amount of translation equipment, but they often lack the expertise and know-how to do an adequate job in a wide variety of events.

Arranging a multinational or multi-language conference is definitely a nerve-wracking affair. This article provides useful tips on how to use simultaneous interpretation for your live event - and ways to hire the best translation company to make sure that your event goes smoothly.

Chris Redish owns A Bridge Between Nations, a simultaneous interpretation company which leases and sells Simultaneous Translation Equipment in Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Orlando, Miami, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Boston, New York, Chicago, Denver, Washington DC, Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Buffalo and all major U.S. cities. He'd love to provide you with a free translation estimate for your forthcoming conference: 1-888-556-3887

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