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A meeting or conference with interpreters? Here’s how to make it a success

30 August 2023
Tolkenopdracht | ElaN Languages

Are you planning a meeting or conference with non-native speakers? Make them more efficient by using interpreters. That’s always a good idea! Another one is to draw up a smart plan of action in advance – that way, you’re absolutely sure that your interpreting flows freely. These five tips will help you do just that. Because, “to be prepared is half the victory”.

1. Brief the interpreters on the content

You may be reluctant to tell the interpreters what will be covered during the meeting in advance. And it’s true that interpreters don’t need to know everything beforehand. But content preparation can be vital in a lot of cases. The vocabulary for a conference on pelvic floor muscles or the castration of pigs isn’t something you can simply pull out of thin air as an interpreter… So how do you maintain confidentiality? That argument doesn’t hold water though because the interpreters get to hear and see all the confidential information during the meeting anyway. Therefore, that doesn’t mean they are going to run with it afterwards. Conclusion: when organising an interpreted meeting, it is best to provide the interpreters with as much information as possible in advance.

2. Choose the right setup

Every event and meeting comes with costs. Employees are taken away from work, catering and a meeting venue (if necessary) cost money… And then there are the interpreters. Under the guise of saving costs, you might request a whisper set (or interpreter case) when the meeting actually requires a booth. And that’s a risky decision. After all, a whisper set isn’t just a cheaper alternative to a booth. Both systems have their uses, but in different circumstances. Chances are that something will be lost in the interpretation and you’ll lose quite a bit of money as well. Our advice? You’re better off spending a little more money for a decent service and extra peace of mind.

3. Provide a short briefing

Briefing the interpreters and speaker(s) doesn’t take long, doesn’t cost money, and will definitely lead to a better meeting. So very briefly explain the ‘who-what-where-how-when-why’ to the interpreters. And point out the things that make it impossible to interpret well to those speakers giving presentations. It’s a little bit of work that makes it so much more pleasant for your audience to listen.

4. Give interpreters a good seat

Don’t hide interpreters away behind a pillar or curtain. We get it; a mousey-grey mobile booth isn’t the epitome of sleek design. But hiding interpreters away does more harm than good. Quality interpretation is all the more difficult when the interpreters can’t see the speakers (properly). Instead, do the opposite: give interpreters a good view of what is happening. The interpretation will be much more fluent and above all more complete. Your audience will thank you. Don’t want the interpreters in the meeting room after all? Then consider our system for remote interpreting.

5. Make pratical arrangements

Do you think we’re preaching to the choir here? Unfortunately, misunderstandings and planning problems are more common than you think. It is best to book your interpreters long enough in advance because they are very often ‘forgotten’. It also goes without saying that you should notify the interpreters of any schedule changes as soon as possible. Seems logical, right? Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that a client sends a request on Friday afternoon asking for interpreters for Monday. And then a half-hour before the scheduled project, we’re told on the spot that the meeting was cancelled the week before or that the meeting has been moved to a later time. That’s no fun for the interpreters, but more importantly, it’s an expensive joke for the client.

Need to hire an interpreter for your meeting or event?

Don’t hesitate to contact Johan Noël: customerservice@elanlanguages.com – 011 49 04 68. Together, we’ll explore how to make your multilingual meeting a success. Or request a quote at no obligation now.

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