In 2008, nearly 2 million people travelled overseas to the U.S. for conferences and conventions; 6.3 million for business purposes (U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, 2008. All-in-all, millions cross borders for business and networking opportunities. Not everyone speaks English, and even those who do speak it are often able to participate more fully if services are available in their native languages. As the number of international visitors at U.S. trade shows increases, and businesses expand into new international markets, so does the use of interpreters for communicating with non-English-speakers.

What follows are tips from language services company Global Language Solutions for working with interpreters in a multilingual business or event environment.

Brief the Interpreter in Advance. It is crucial to give your interpreters relevant materials and background information in advance, as well as copies of any documents which the interpreter will be expected to render verbally. For example, do you have presentation slides, charts, or graphs that you will use in your event? Give these to the interpreter as early as possible – ideally with plenty of time for him/her to research any unfamiliar terms or clarify any unclear items.

Understand Simultaneous vs. Consecutive Interpreting. Simultaneous interpreting is when an interpreter listens to information and relays it in another language while continuing to listen. This type of interpreting is generally useful for situations when there is only one speaker at a time, such as a conference or a presentation. Consecutive interpreting is where the speaker pauses after several phrases or sentences to allow the interpreter time to relay it into the other language. Many conference and business interpreters are trained to provide both simultaneous and consecutive interpreting. For example, an interpreter may interpret in simultaneous mode during a presentation, but the Questions & Answers session that follows will be rendered in consecutive mode.

Will Just Any Interpreter Suffice? Simply put, no. The interpreter should be a trained, professional interpreter who is able to speak both languages fluently and free of an accent that could significantly interfere with comprehension. Also, the interpreter should be experienced or certified in your topic matter. For example, there are certifications for medical and courtroom interpreters.

Creating Sound Barriers (equipment needs). Imagine your English-language presentation is being simultaneously interpreted into four languages and your interpreters are seated with the general audience. A scenario like this can cause confusion as not only do the languages overlap, but no one can focus or hear what the presenter is saying. Avoid confusion with a sound barrier, whether it is a PLEXIGLAS® enclosure that sits on top of a table (the more affordable option) or a fully encapsulated booth with direct audio feeds for the interpreter.

Online or offline, chances are your industry, brand, and target audiences are crossing borders. For more information about interpreting services, contact GLS or call +1-949-798-1400.

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