Many organizations and corporations today link with each other faster because of advancements made in communication technology. Countless multilingual business meetings, conferences and events are conducted around the world daily, the success of which largely depends on attendees understanding each other. Behind these successes are the often under recognized men and women, the professional interpreters that help multilingual participants understand one another.
WHAT DO INTERPRETERS DO?
Broadly, interpreters ensure that communication between event participants who do not speak the same language is possible.
THINK OF INTERPRETATION FIRST
If you are hosting a multilingual meeting, conference or event, it is important to keep in mind how critical it is to get the participants' messages across. You need to have interpreters to help the event flow smoothly, creating an environment where all the event participants speak the same language.
OUR TOP TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTING A SUCCESSFUL EVENT INTERPRETATION STRATEGY
- Plan on interpreters for all the languages used at your meeting or event.
- Understand which languages are understood and spoken by your participants.
- Brief event participants to speak freely in their native tongue. If there are time constraints, encourage them to shorten their speech instead of speaking faster. This will help with the accuracy of the interpretation.
- Participants should submit the full text of their presentation prior to the conference.
- Ensure that the title of a session or the meeting is very clear so interpreters can correctly prepare themselves and accurately translate the session.
- Always indicate the timing on the event agenda.
- Clearly annotated agenda items are helpful to interpreters, it provides context.
- Interpreters should be briefed before the meeting to they can prepare.
- All documents should be ready in all the languages needed for the meeting.
- Copies of the handouts and presentation slides should be available in the interpreters’ workspaces or booths.
- Ensure that interpreters will have a clear view of the screen during audiovisual presentations.
Interpretation during multilingual meetings and events will be smoother and on-point when meeting planners help interpreters prepare. Fully prepared, the interpreters will appear invisible but heard, which contributes greatly to the success of the meeting or event.
Days before the meeting, plan on meeting with the interpreting team for a general briefing. Draft of the agenda, purpose of the meeting, the participants’ resumes, places of origin, and the summary of the presentations should be discussed. This will help interpreters have a full grasp of the context and subject matter they will be working in. There may be special terminology, specific presentations and subject matters that must be highlighted and prepared for.
Interpreters are experienced professionals. They will ask many questions that will aid in their preparation. This is also a sign of their experience and capability. If your interpreters are not asking questions, or do not know what questions to ask, you should be very wary.
THE INTERPRETER'S ROLE
Now that you've learned how to prepare, and how interpreters prepare for multilingual meetings and events, let's look at why they are vital to the success of your event.
- Interpreters are important when you have business negotiations with international participants. They are subject matter experts. They have excellent language skills and are knowledgeable in business terminologies, have a precise grasp of technical terms in source and target languages, and understand the participant’s trade.
- They observe proper decorum and have the composure to adapt to different pressures, such as tactics, tensions and negotiation breakdown.
- In global business settings, interpreters can assist participants in negotiations. Interpreters have mastery of both languages. They have the experience to understand project perspectives, both local and global.
- In heated debates, during a meeting or conference, the interpreters interpret the opinion of all participants in a calm manner, which can help tamp down the tense situation. The interpreter who can logically state the true intention and meaning of all the participants concerned contributes greatly to the seamless conduct of a business meeting.
- Interpreters are highly skilled listeners and speakers. They are incredibly focused, which is intrinsic in their job, because they have to carefully listen to the speaker and precisely convey what was said. An interpreter must not only be fluent in the language but must also possess business fluency. It is imperative that the interpreter accurately and quickly synthesizes the spoken word in both languages in order to convey it correctly.
- Understanding cultural differences is also required of business interpreters. They are not only experts in spoken languages, but they must also be able to read non-verbal cues and body language from both parties. In Japan for example, it is rude to be directly negative and Japanese businesspersons will often say "tabun.'' The English equivalent of this word is ''maybe." But in Japan, tabun means that the executive is still unwilling to consider a proposal or a specific idea. However, the word maybe for Americans indicates that there is still a possibility of approval after further deliberation. To convey the true message and intentions, the interpreter has to know many cultural differences. Make sure the interpreters you hire are well-versed in this.
- In a business setting, interpreters may also be called upon to deal with the written word. In such cases, the interpreter also acts as a translator to quickly and efficiently provide an accurate translation of written texts.
You might think that the success of a multilingual business meeting or event solely depends on the venue, the accommodation and presentations. In reality, the interpreters pave the way for participants speaking various languages to accurately understand each other. Proper communication can result in successful negotiations, networking and relationship building at your conference or event. Interpreters are the unsung heroes. For the success of your next international meeting or event, see to it that you work with professional interpreters who have excellent linguistic skills and are subject matter experts.
Guest Contributor: Bernadine Racoma is a senior content writer at Day Translations, a human translation services company. After her long stint as an international civil servant, she has aggressively pursued her interest in writing and research. She has notable fondness for things related to technology, travel, lifestyle, social media, and current affairs. She is also an advocate and mother to 7 successful children.