The skills shown by our simultaneous interpreters who specialise in EWCs is quite frankly breath taking. Listening to them covering topics at breakneck speed into and out of a second language and just a few seconds behind the speaker is extremely impressive so, understandably, interpreters are fiercely proud of their industry.
In order to protect their profession’s reputation for quality and integrity they will do everything they can to make your event run smoothly. However, there are some simple steps organisers can take to make their lives easier and ensure their delegates get a top quality interpreting experience.
Multi-language conferences are becoming increasingly specialised and technically complex. Remember, you work for your company year round and its acronyms and industry jargon are second nature. By contrast, an interpreter may be working on several different events every week so the more you can help by providing information in advance, the better prepared they will be for your event.
The main sources of information that interpreters use to prepare are conference documents and internet searches for industry background and terminology resources. In some cases a pre-conference briefing, even a very short one immediately before the meeting, can be a valuable addition to the interpreters’ preparation for a difficult technical meeting.
Aim to provide some or all of the following at least a couple of weeks in advance:
- program or agenda
- background papers on the subjects and organisations involved; basically anything you think will add to the interpreters’ understanding of your company and corporate culture
- PowerPoint presentations and the speakers’ notes
- documents to be discussed
- copies of speeches to be delivered
- multilingual glossaries of the relevant terminology & acronyms
- summaries or minutes of previous meetings
- list of speakers and delegates so interpreters can familiarise themselves with participants and any difficult pronunciations speakers’ bios
- files of any films to be shown so that interpreters can prepare a summary of content
The down side of technology of course means that in the real world, your presenters are often finishing their presentation a day or two before the conference. However even a draft version is helpful to an interpreter and if similar topics are covered each year, it’s useful to send last year’s presentations to give an indication of likely subject matter.
Of course, we understand all files are confidential. We already have our own confidentiality agreements in place and are happy to sign any additional NDAs and we can also work out the best way to upload sensitive or extra large files.
At the conference itself you should expect the interpreters to arrive at least 30 minutes before the start so if you are providing the technical equipment directly make sure your supplier has everything ready for testing at this stage.
You can also use this opportunity to let the interpreters know any changes or important updates; often for large meetings there will be a liaison interpreter to act as main link between you and the interpreters so you just need to speak to them and they will do the rest.
And while interpreters are talented, they can only interpret what they can clearly hear! Prior to the meeting you need to make sure that the sound level is clear, that everyone has a clear view of the screen and provide wi-fi in the conference room so they can access on-line dictionaries and reference materials as they work. For more handy tips see our previous blog on choosing the right venue for your EWC.
Finally, ensure that your speakers and participants understand how to pace themselves for interpreters. Someone mumbling at 90 miles an hour will make the interpreters’ job extra hard as will several speaking people speaking at once.
A professional interpreter’s role is to accurately convey your speakers’ words and meaning and make them forget they are hearing that through an interpreter. However, they can do this much more easily if they get the right information to do it!