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What Event Professionals Need to Know About the Interpreting (R)evolution

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: April 13, 2016

change

It will have far great impact on events than any apps possibly could, yet few people are talking about it. It has the potential to take your business and those of your clients to unimagined heights of ROI yet you probably haven’t heard about it.

For managers running international events, the growing interpreting (r)evolution is a huge deal. Let me walk you through it.

Anyone who has hired interpreters will know the deal. At some point in the last month or so before the event, someone in the office realises that some of the delegates don’t speak English. If you are well organised, you call your preferred agency supplier. If you aren’t, someone googles “translation” and the languages you want and eventually gets an agency who agrees to do it.

While that might be a caricature, it’s fair to say that, for many events managers, interpreting is not high on the priority list. Why should it be? It’s expensive, clunky, and doesn’t seem to add much to the event.

But this is where the interpreting (r)evolution comes in. In response to massive shifts in the market, interpreters are realising that they can be much more valuable to their clients. Nowadays, an excellent interpreter will ask about the target audience, the aim of the event, your goals and KPIs, the number of attendees and so much more. Put simply, interpreters are ready to make a difference.

So what makes this a (r)evolution?

Well, it is evolutionary as some interpreters have been thinking in those terms for a while now. They have been viewing success in terms of the success of the event, building their own direct client base, and partnering with equipment suppliers. For them, all that is happening is that they are getting better at what they already do.

Yet these changes are revolutionary as they represent a step change in thinking, which is spreading through the industry. Many who are newer in the profession have taken it in their stride. They happily talk about bringing passion and persuasion to their work, adding value, and learning all about the work their clients do outside of the event.

As with any revolution, however, not everyone is in favour. There are some groups of interpreters who simply want to turn up, say what needs to be said, and go home. Their commitment is more to perfect accuracy (or as near as they can get) than to brand image, ROI or sales figures.

For event professionals, this makes it absolutely vital to ask for the service level you want. Sure, there are occasions where you have a one-off event and a quick call to your preferred agency will do the trick. When you have longer-term commitments and want to build a team you can use again and again, going direct and finding that one interpreter who can link you to expert colleagues will be key.

And how do you know when you have found the right interpreter?

Here’s one easy test. Do they seem more interested in comfortable conditions for them or impressive outcomes for you? Look for interpreters who answer questions in terms of your aims and those of your client. Sure, there are some rules in interpreting that are unbreakable (two interpreters per language pair, access to lots of water, advance sight of event notes, appropriate equipment, reasonable shift length) but even these can and should be explained to you in terms of why they help ensure a better service for you.

In fact, perhaps the easiest test is the simplest: how good are they at client service? Sure, there are some interpreters who are grumpy by email but great at their job but should you really take the risk? Interpreting is a service industry; we deliver great service to send your clients home happy every time.

To get Integrity Languages expertise at your next event, hit the contact button above.

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