Organizing Interpreting Teams

How do I organize interpreting teams for my next conference?

See also "Speakers"

Important information for the conference organizer:

  • Be sure to book interpreters and technicians well in advance: we also have our high season.
  • On your invitation to participants, be sure to indicate that professional conference interpreters will beproviding simultaneous interpretation into various languages. 
    Prepare an overhead transparency for the day of the conference with approximately the following text: 
Your interpreters Ihre Dolmetscher Vos interprètes
E = channel x D = Kanal y F = canal z

and project this while the participants enter and find their seats.

  • Speakers' interventions must be sent to the conference interpreters at least 8 days before the conference, by e-mail or by post: a "red thread" is often sufficient.
  • Annual reports, dozens of slides, voluminous PowerPoint presentations: please do NOT send these by e-mail for us to print - our “Home Offices” are not equipped for this. Hence, please do so for us (black and white will suffice) and send them to each interpreter by regular mail. Also be sure to have them placed in the interpretation booths on the day of the assignment.
  • For the proper preparation and successful work of the interpreters, please also provide in ALL available languages: lists of products, services, divisions and, IMPORTANT, lists of abbreviations. If biographies or résumés of speakers are going to be read out, please add these too to our preparation documents.
  • Always inform conference speakers that you are working with interpreters. Point out to speakers that if they read out papers at top speed, then their listeners will go back home having grasped little or nothing!
  • Always ask all speakers what language they intend to speak (not always their mother tongue) so that we can take this aspect into account for the language split within the team of interpreters.
  • Please provide comfortable chairs in the interpreter booths: 6 hours on a bar stool or plastic chair do not really help us give our best.
  • Badges: please remember to also prepare a badge for your conference interpreters, with their name and “ Conference interpreter” below. More than once, after a break, re-accessing the venue was refused to us because we could not be identified as such. Thank you!

FINAL TIP: if you require interpreting services, always make sure that the intermediary (or agency) does not offer interpreters with three mother tongues or one person who will interpret for 3 hours alone (generally substandard and overpriced). Professional training takes 4-5 years, and professionals will only work simultaneously into a foreign language in exceptional cases! There is a grey market, of course, but there are also professionals. The latter are the ones who will always give you good value for your money, as well as the discretion customary to the profession.