Working with Interpreters: Top Tips for Training Course Organizers
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Working with Interpreters: Top Tips for Training Course Organizers

Companies planning to have international participants attend their training courses need to have a clear understanding on how to work with interpreters and prepare for this in advance to deliver the most effective results.

First things first

Before you contact interpreters, you need to have confirmed the location, format, agenda and course content; these factors will have a crucial impact on the language support that is required. When budgeting, you will need to build in travel and subsistence costs for interpreters and subject to location, possibly overnight accommodation for the duration of the course.

Some of the key points to consider during the planning stage are outlined below: you may also want to call on the services of an experienced project manager so they can ensure that your plans are workable and can support you through the process.

The perfect match

When selecting interpreters, in addition to checking they are fluent in the language of the course leaders and participants, make sure they have experience of your industry and terminology.

If the course is mainly being delivered through presentations, simultaneous interpreting is normally the best choice. A team of at least two interpreters will be needed as they work in pairs to maintain the quality of their service throughout the working day. In cases where there is less formal content and more visual or hands on content, it may be possible to use a consecutive interpreter. The interpreter will deliver the presenter’s remarks segment by segment and can assist with language support when delegates are working on practical tasks.

Simultaneous interpreters will usually need equipment to deliver interpretation to the delegates via headsets. This can be done using a portable tour guide kit which is relatively easy to operate and set up. It is also ideal for courses which frequently move rooms or include social tours or factory visits. However, there will always be a little background noise in the room and someone has to be responsible for charging the equipment and collecting everything at the end. A professional booth is relatively soundproof and allows for a smoother professional delivery. However, they do require an on-site specialist technician, enough room in each classroom to accommodate them and time to set up and dismantle.

If you are planning a course with multiple participants, learning streams and locations, you may require a mix of equipment and interpreting styles. In turn, this will affect the number of interpreters and technicians required. It should now be apparent why you need to have the details of your project well in advance.

Planning for success

Interpreting is highly skilled and intense work. Simultaneous interpreters work in pairs but even so they need to have some breaks built into their day. Consecutive interpreters are working alone and must have breaks to ensure the quality of interpreting is maintained throughout the day.

A consecutive delivery will repeat in segments so naturally it takes longer. Think about the extra time needed when setting the agenda. Do not be tempted to create long days and cram everything in, it might save some money but if you want to ensure that your participants get a really good service and understand what is being said, plan accordingly.

Other logistics

Using language services is a major investment so make sure you optimize on it. Have course materials translated and ensure the interpreters have documents well in advance to allow them to fully prepare. Consider a briefing either in person or via teleconference if the subject matter is particularly complex and allow time on the first morning to meet interpreters and ensure any questions can be answered.


A training course can require different teams and equipment on different days and times. It can be quite a challenge thinking everything through, ensuring your plan will run smoothly on the ground and planning all the logistics. Our experienced project managers have great experience in all sorts of training scenarios around the world and would be happy to help with advice and project management. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your training course in more detail.