How to work with interpreters

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How to work with interpreters

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While it is second nature to some people who regularly work through interpreters, for most of us it is a new experience. You may be doing business with a new client in a foreign country for the first time, pitching for business, or organising an event for foreign visitors. Whatever the circumstances, using an interpreter means that both parties are fully comfortable with the language and understand everything which opens up the way for a smoother relationship and business partnership.

If you are using, or considering hiring, an interpreter for the first time there are a few hints and tips to help you get the most out of them and make your working relationship as efficient as possible.

An interpreter’s role

An interpreter is there to facilitate your conversation, not to lead or manage it. Their role is to translate exactly what is being said by both parties, not to ‘interpret’ what the other is saying or state their opinion on the matters being discussed.

How to prepare

As with anything, preparation is key to getting it right on the day.

  • Make sure that your interpreter is well briefed on the background to the meeting or event and the people involved and on what you want to achieve from it
  • Understand from your interpreter what the cultural differences between you and your counterpart are so that you familiar with any areas that may not be appropriate to cover or which may require a different approach than you might normally take
  • Provide your interpreter with any materials that you propose to use, such as speaking notes, presentations, brochures, or demos so they can prepare in advance on how best to translate them

During the meeting

When the time comes for the meeting, there are a couple of things to keep at the forefront of you mind:

  • Introduce both yourself and our interpreter. They may be working for both parties, or your counterpart may have their own interpret, so all-round introductions are important
  • Make eye contact with and speak only to your client, not your interpreter. It’s a tricky skill to master when first using an interpreter, but their role is to translate so it’s important to remember that your discussion is with your counterpart, not the interpreter
  • You may need to speak more slowly and you will need to break up what you want to say into discrete segments to give your interpreter a chance to translate the information without missing anything out
  • Don’t have a side conversation with your interpreter during the meeting, but do clarify any points that he/she may not understand to better help them to translate. They will ask if they are unsure of something before beginning the translation

After the meeting

Make sure you have understood everything that your counterpart has said before ending the meeting, but once it is over a brief discussion with your interpreter may help to further clarify some of the cultural differences that led to the answers or direction that the conversation took.

For professional interpretation services for a wide variety of sectors and industries, our team at Language Link UK can help. We’re here to make sure that language differences don’t get in the way of you doing business successfully. You can get in touch with us using our contact form and we will get back to you to discuss the details.