An article designed to aid speakers work with interpreters.

In order to help you get your message across, there are two important facts about your listeners that you should consider:
If you are speaking at an international conference, most will in reality be listening to you in what is for them a second or third language. Perhaps only a very few members of the audience will share your native language capability.
At any conference, to reach the majority of the participants, you will in fact be speaking to simultaneous interpreters, who in turn will deliver your message.

To ensure your message reaches those participants listening to you in their second or third language, please:
Always speak clearly.
Try not to read your presentation, but rather speak from your notes. This helps to get the message across and to keep the audience focused on what you have to say. Keep statements simple and clear.
Avoid professional jargon, metaphors unique to your professional culture, and uncommon acronyms. The abbreviations you use on a daily basis may be unknown to the layperson. There may be no standard equivalent for your acronyms in the target language, so each time you use such acronyms, your interpreter will have to explain your meaning. This generates an additional time lag and increases the possibility of errors.

Professional interpreters strive to deliver your message accurately and completely. Simultaneous interpretation is a most challenging and complex task. A well-prepared interpreter can serve you better by fully understanding your message. Conference interpreters would be most appreciative if you would assist in this process:
Create your presentation in PowerPoint and give a copy to the interpreters in advance, several days before the presentation. Interpreters need time to find the best equivalents, especially if your presentation contains special terminology.
Provide interpreters with copies of charts, tables, or maps, if you plan to use them.
Provide interpreters with names, dates, and the most important numbers to be used in your presentation.
If you plan to use quotations, let the interpreters know in advance. Many sources have official translations and your interpreters need time to find those texts.
Do not overuse jokes. Jokes dont lend themselves very well to interpretation because many are culture-specific or language-specific. Puns do not normally translate. For guaranteed success, please provide your jokes to the interpreters in advance.

In summary, the more you consider the needs of those who are trying to listen to you and those who are interpreting for you, the higher the probability your message will be received just as you intended.

Copyright, 1999-2006. All rights reserved. -
Working with Simultaneous Interpreters
Author: Kurt Porter
Russian Federation
Russian to English translator 
By Kurt Porter
Published on 08/11/2005
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