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When Should You Start Talking to Interpreters?

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: February 19, 2019

You have a lot to get done. The hotel needs booked. The catering needs confirmed. There are flight arrival times to check, staff duties to roster, presentations to finalise. The list is endless. Some things can wait, right?

Like interpreting. You know there are some people coming to sit in boxes and “translate” but it’s no big deal, right? I mean, if they couldn’t understand what is going to be said, they aren’t good interpreters, right?

So it makes no difference whether we send over the papers today or wait until the coffee company rings back and the hotel confirm the meal choices.

Hold on.

What’s the worst thing that could go wrong here, apart from the roof caving in or the hotel turning into a giant heap of dust before your guests even arrive?

If the food is undercooked, it can be sent back to the kitchen. If the hotel take a few days extra to confirm bookings, it’ll be a pain but you’ll manage. But if your guests, who have flown halfway across Europe arrive and feel it was all a giant waste of time and money, that really would be a problem.

Your reputation hinges on this event being just right. That’s why you hired great speakers and chose a lovely venue and decided long ago on the theme.

If anyone is going to learn, be persuaded, buy, change their behaviour or even just go home with a smile, the quality of the presentations they hear really, really matters. And if what they hear and experience really matters, interpreting isn’t an afterthought; it’s a foundational part of the whole event.

Hmm. Maybe now would be a good time to send the interpreters all those presentations and perhaps even call them to check if they have any other questions or even suggestions. You’d be surprised what they notice from those grey boxes at the back.

Go on. It’ll only take ten minutes. The place settings can wait. Get the best out of your interpreters and your event will really, really fly.

And if you need a hand putting together the information your interpreters will really need, try this free brief. If you would like more in-depth advice, send me an email so we can chat about it.

One comment on “When Should You Start Talking to Interpreters?

  1. You seemed to hit a nail there, Jonathan. We interpreters encounter two main issues in our practice as you highlighted. First, most clients don’t seem to be aware that interpreters are the fundamental component of their event, and how good interpretation can boost the success of their event. Second is a lack of provision of documents and adequate briefing. Understanding of these and establishing a good practice by clients will not only ease pressure on interpreters, but also this will significantly enhance their performance. So, it is a win win. I believe it is our duty to keep raising these issues until we manage to increase awareness. On that note, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on this issue.

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