Interpreters play a vital role in meetings and conferences. In order to help your interpreters be successful, here are a few things you should know:

Interpreters are not subject matter experts:

In order to provide the most accurate and complete interpretation, your interpreter should be provided with supporting material to study well in advance of the event. Every field has its own particular terminology and concepts. Even within a given field, no one person will be conversant in all possible subjects; you should not expect your interpreter to be. In the flow of interpreting, there is no time to look up words in the dictionary.

However, a good interpreting team will do its best to study the provided material and do its own research in advance. They will work together to help each other in the interpreters’ booth by passing notes and looking up words for each other. They have the skill to apply newly learned terms on the spot. A good team of interpreters is very sharp, learns very fast, and responds quickly under the highly stressed interpreting environment. Those are the key points and main attributes when searching for interpreters, not subject matter experts.

Do not ask interpreters to work alone, no matter how few participants there are:

Whether you have one person who is going to utilize the interpreting services or an entire room filled with audience members that are going to listen to the interpreting, the amount of work is the same, especially in conference settings. Interpreters need to work just as hard to interpret everything for one or a thousand. Having just one listener does not mean your interpreters can pick and choose what to interpret or shorten their workload. To maintain a high quality of service, interpreters need to rotate to rest their brain for a few minutes while their partner is interpreting. If you ask your interpreter to work alone, the money you invest on the interpreting services is mostly wasted because when the interpreter is tired, after 20 minutes typically, the quality of the interpreting starts to downgrade. Then pretty soon, most of the content conveyed in the meeting will be lost in translation.

Cheaper is not always better:

As in any field, different interpreters may quote you different prices. That’s the nature of the free market. But also, you generally get what you pay for. Please be advised that one interpreter’s higher price may be founded on merit. Although many interpreters do claim that they can work as a conference interpreter, not every interpreter possesses the qualities and attributes of a good simultaneous interpreter. A good interpreter will probably have a long list of interpreting experiences with many satisfied clients. If you are going to spend the money and effort to host and facilitate a meeting or conference, do a little research and ask for references.