We are often talking about globalization of industries, business practices, and even personal relations. Quite often, the world is regarded as one table around which we are sitting and discussing our common future. The fact, that we speak different languages should not scare us as there are professionals who can help us communicate and understand each other – the interpreters. 

The job of the interpreter is gaining popularity in many business fields as it provides each party with the freedom to speak their own language and still be perfectly understood. No matter if it comes to business interpretation services or helping with a medical appointment, there are certain rules that participants in the conversation need to follow when working with an interpreter. 

Many people are not used to working with an interpreter and feel a bit nervous not knowing what to expect or how to behave. So, we have summarized a few tips that can help anyone get the most of their collaboration with an interpreter and enjoy the benefits of the service.  

Note that the tips below apply primarily when working with an interpreter who uses consecutive mode of interpretation – one of the sides speaks, the interpreter renders the message and so on. Still, most of the ideas are also valid in simultaneous interpretation except the fact that you need to pause and wait for your words to be interpreted before you continue.  

Introduce Yourself to the Interpreter 

At the beginning of the meeting it is necessary to introduce yourself and the other participants in the conversation. You should also introduce the interpreter to the rest, if you are familiar with them, or let the professional introduce themselves. In case, you are having a meeting with people who have never worked with an interpreter, you can briefly explain what to expect.  

Provide the Interpreter with Information and Materials in Advance 

It is a good idea to provide the interpreter with any materials or information about the meeting in advance. If there are any written documents, they will be of great help. Thus, the interpreter will get into the subject matter and will be more prepared with the respective terminology. You can also brief the interpreter on any sensitive information or preferences you may have during the meeting.  

Speak Clearly 

It is necessary to speak clearly and in a normal tone. Even though your interpreter is able to cope with a faster pace of speech, it is always better to speak slowly/normally. Thus, you will avoid the necessity to repeat a phrase or sentence in case they were misunderstood.  

Make Pauses 

You need to allow the interpreter to render your words into the target language, so you need to make pauses. It is better to pause after a sentence or two or after a complete thought. Thus, the interpreted chunk will have meaning to the listeners. Avoid making pauses after two-three words as this will break the conversation too much. It is also not a good idea to speak more than 10-15 minutes without a pause. Your interpreter is usually trained to cope with a text of such length but the other participants in the discussion may get bored or distracted while waiting for the interpretation.  

Speak Directly to the Participants in the Conversation 

Remember that you need to address the other participant/s in the conversation directly when speaking. Do not turn to the interpreter or use phrases like “ask them” or “tell them.” Similarly, the interpreter interprets the conversation from first person and does not use “they said,” “she asked,” “he wondered” or similar phrases.  

Avoid Metaphors, Idioms, Jargon, and Jokes 

It is better to stear clear from metaphors, idioms and abbreviations in your speech as they usually do not translate directly into the other language and may lead to some confusion. Sarcasm and jokes are also to be avoided. Use simple and concise wording that will facilitate the overall conversation.  

Allow More Time for an Interpreted Conversation  

When you are planning a meeting with consecutive interpretation included, you need to allow more time for the event. In general, it will take twice as long to finish the meeting as you will speak and then have your words interpreted, then the other party will speak and have their words interpreted. Take this into account when planning your schedule to avoid inconveniences. Do not try to speed up the meeting by speaking too fast, for example, as it will be counterproductive.  

Only One Person Speaks at a Time 

Let only one person speak at a time to avoid confusion. Thus, the interpreter will be able to render the words in the target language more efficiently. If there are interruptions, this can confuse the conversation and require more time for clarifications. When only one person speaks this will facilitate interpretation and guarantee its highest quality while providing a natural flow of the conversation.  

Be Aware of Cultural Differences 

Note that often a different language means cultural differences as well. Take some time to learn a few things of the culture and customs of your partners, in case you are meeting them for the first time, in order to facilitate the overall meeting. Your interpreter may help you with some advice as well, so it can be a good idea to discuss this in your preliminary meeting.  

Remember that the interpreter you are working with is a professional in the field so treat them as such. Know, that they will simply render your words from one language to another and do not expect them to change the meaning or add additional information. In limited cases and with prior agreement, the interpreter may explain certain notions a bit more to make sure that they are understood. This happens more often in medical interpretation, when the patient is not familiar with the medical terminology and may feel at a loss. Otherwise, the interpreter will convey your message in the target language taking into account the cultural differences that may exist.  

Working with an interpreter is quite normal for many people and they do it almost on a daily basis, while others have no experience at all. In both cases, the tips above will help you have a fruitful communication and exchange of ideas.  

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