Integrity Languages


Tag Archives: conference translation

What Does a Consultant Interpreter Actually Do?

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: March 14, 2018

For most businesses who don’t have an HQ in Brussels, Paris or some other city where conference interpreting is ubiquitous, the phrase “consultant interpreter” will seem entirely foreign. So what is one and what can they do for you?

To answer that question, we need to think about how interpreters are traditionally hired. For many companies, hiring an interpreter means sending an email to an interpreting agency with a brief for the event, sending over documents and then waiting for the interpreters to turn up on the day.

There is not a lot obviously wrong with that model and, as I mention in my free Buying Interpreting Step-by-Step course, there are times when going to an interpreting agency is exactly what you need to do.

Yet, there comes a time in many businesses where running international events becomes a regular feature of your work. There might also be occasions where the event is so special or so valuable that you want greater partnership than the traditional agency model can easily provide.

This is where consultant interpreters come in. As both a practising interpreter in their own right and someone who knows how to build specialist interpreting teams, they know how to match your exact needs with interpreters on the market. They will know who is excellent for sales events and who is better in board meetings. Why? Because they will tend to have worked alongside the people they recommend and will have first-hand experience of their strengths and weaknesses.

As well as building you a custom interpreting team, a good consultant interpreter will also have relationships with suppliers of interpreting equipment. That relationship alone could save you hours of frustration!

Lastly, here’s something that few people know. Consultant interpreters really are consultants too. If you have a question about the best order to speeches to keep people awake or the right interpreting equipment or even the best way to address guests from different countries, ask your consultant interpreter. They will have the knowledge and experience to either answer those questions themselves or find you the right person to answer them.


Now that you have seen what a consultant interpreter can do, isn’t it time you chatted with one? Drop me an email using the contact form for a free Skype chat to see how working with a consultant interpreter could super-charge your business.

Why Event Managers Should Beware of Package Deals

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: January 10, 2017

Great event managers are always on the lookout for ways to simplify processes. They will learn scheduling and automation tools, return to the same suppliers, and integrate technology throughout the process. Yet sometimes, that instinct for simplification can lead to poor decision-making, that is especially the case where interpreting is concerned.

Let me explain how this can happen. For many conferences, especially where interpreting is needed into more than one language, there will be a need to book soundproof interpreting booths, headsets and various microphones, as well as the interpreters themselves. Some Audio Visual equipment (AV) suppliers, having noticed that their clients want to keep things simple, now offer to supply the interpreters for free, if the events agency give them the contract for AV equipment hire.


It sounds like a good deal. They get a nice contract and you can tick two items off your to-do list at once. So what’s the problem?


The big issue with package deals like this is that they put AV suppliers in a position where the biggest potential drain on profits is the service that represents the biggest risk and greatest potential benefit to you. Your delegates probably won’t notice much of a difference between a set-up based on XLR cables versus one using CAT-5s. They will notice the difference between professionally trained and prepared interpreters and people who just learned the language on holiday.

Since the AV providers already have the equipment, payment to interpreters will be the biggest risk to their profit margins. That, in turn, can lead to them trying to find ways to save money on the interpreting itself. This is the same interpreting your clients are relying on for the meeting to be a success.


All professional interpreters have a minimum fee and the AV suppliers who take the package deal approach may negotiate hard to reduce these minimum fees. If you hire interpreters directly or via a reputable agency, these agencies and consultants will know that the return on investment of great interpreting is always higher than its costs. These same interpreting specialists will also know who the great interpreters are and how much it will cost to get them on board.


So, while package deals are tempting, it always pays to ask yourself whether such deals sacrifice quality on the altar of speed. If you want the kind of interpreting that ensures your event has the right impact, it will always pay to go to a reputable agency or an experienced consultant.

Conference Translation and the Need to Speak Fluent Client

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: November 7, 2016

We are communicators. It’s our job to create messages that people are as compelling in the target language as they are in the source language. That might just mean that we need to adopt terminology that makes us uncomfortable, rather than insisting on correctness, especially if we want clients to be able to find us.


Who buys “Translation Equipment” anyway?


I am a late convert to search engine optimisation. When I started as an interpreter, it was still common to hear people suggest that, aslong as you signed on with the right agencies or secretariats, clients would come flocking. Few people believe that now. Increasingly, people want to arrange entire conferences online and the easier you are to find, the more likely it is that you will be the person they call.


But the more you dig into search engine keywords, the more you realise that there are data trends that make us uncomfortable. Check google keywords related to “conference interpreting”, for example, and you will find that there is considerable traffic every month to searches for “translation equipment” (pyjamas, CAT tools and coffee, perhaps?), and real demand for “simultaneous translators” and “conference translation”.


I know few interpreters who could seriously write about any of those without a wince and the need to apologise profusely for using such strange collocations. We would all want to write posts explaining why those aren’t the right terms and that you should instead talk about “conference interpreting,” “conference interpreting equipment” and “simultaneous interpreting”.


But how far will that really get us? Who would click on a rant, instead of a simple explanation and a visible point of sale?


Interpreters should be Expert Communicators


The application is clear. Since we pride ourselves on being communication experts, we need to pay attention to how our potential clients are actually talking about our services. As much as we might like to correct some misconceptions and even write long screeds about the difference between “conference interpreting” and “conference interpretation”, none of that will get us any closer to more work.


Of course, there is a lot of value in helping clients understand our profession better but we must never be guilty of attempting to do so with a superior or condescending tone. In the era of social marketing and targeted blogging, the interpreters who succeed will be those who approach clients with their needs and goals in mind.


Selling Conference Interpreting, Marketing Conference Translation


All this means taking strategic decisions on our websites and blogs. As much as it might pain us, we need to pay as much attention to how our clients are currently searching for our services as we do to our own terminology use. Might it be possible to write an entire blog post on buying “conference translation” with nothing more than a tiny reference to the industry standard term? In fact, might it even be possible to be brave enough to not offer a correction at all?


Yes, I know, taking such steps might well unleash a torrent of disapproving reactions from fellow professionals but it may well be worth it. I have rarely seen interpreters pay for interpreting. If creating the odd post with errant terminology will increase the effectiveness of my marketing and increase the number of assignments I get, I would say that is a fair trade-off.


After all, client education is most effective once you have already built up credibility and forged relationships. Forging those relationships in the first place might just mean learning to translate our existing knowledge and skills into words our clients habitually use.

Translator or interpreter: Which One Does your Event Need?

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: September 2, 2016

You know your next international event is going to be an extravaganza. You know there will be delegates from several countries at the event, all wanting to hear the proceedings in their language. They might even want the event guide in their language too. So, do you need to hire conference interpreters or translators and what difference does it make anyway?


Here is your simple guide.


If you need people to hear the conference speeches or product presentations in their language or if there are deaf people who will need to see what is going on in a Sign Language, you need interpreters.


If there are signs, guides, websites, or paperwork that needs to be available in other languages, you need translators.


It’s that simple, really.


After that, if you need interpreters, you have decisions to make. For big events and conference, with interpreting into more than one language, you really can’t do without professional simultaneous interpreting equipment. This means soundproof booths, headsets, mics, etc. A good interpreting equipment supplier will know exactly what you need and will be able to integrate cleanly with whatever audiovisual setup is already there.


For small events, or when there are only two or three delegates there who need interpreting into a single language, you might be able to use whispered interpreting. However, the problem with this is that it inevitably causes some disruption to the people nearby and, due to the inevitable restriction in the volume the interpreters can use, it is not likely to be as immersive as simultaneous interpreting.


For some events, like after dinner talks or events where interpreting is needed into a single language and you want to showcase it, you can use different forms of consecutive interpreting. Some speaker, for example, find that working with an interpreter next to them on the stage gives another dynamic to their performance. Other times, it makes more sense for the speaker to deliver the entire speech and then for the interpreter to give an interpreted version,


Whatever the event, a good consultant interpreter or experienced interpreting agency will be able to recommend the best setup to achieve your aims. And, with more and more interpreters and interpreting agencies having solid contacts in the translation industry, they might be able to recommend translators too, so that all your communications with your delegates are smooth and effective.