Interpreters are oral translators
Conference interpreters work globally at meetings of all kinds. Generally, they work either simultaneously in a booth or consecutively on the same platform as the speakers.
Conference interpreters work in pairs
Simultaneous interpreting is a very difficult and highly strenuous discipline. EMCI interpreters hired for an interpretation assignment therefore take turns working a maximum of 20-30 minutes at a time.
Interpreters translating from one language into another do not necessarily translate in the other direction (called a ‘retour’). You should inquire about every direction of the oral translation(s) needed for an assignment.
Working hours and breaks
EMCI interpreters are highly skilled professionals, and therefore it makes little sense to overload them through inadequate breaks and extreme working hours.
They will most likely not be able deliver their best, if you do. A 7 hour work day is a full day in conference interpreting.
Documents for preparation
EMCI interpreters prepare themselves conscientiously prior to each conference in order to handle its specific themes and terminology. I encourage you to provide the opportunity to do so and thus optimize the product, you are paying for. Please make sure you email adequate and relevant documents in time for the interpreters.
Getting the message across
Inform your speakers/presenters that reading aloud from a written speech at full speed
or losing themselves in intricate sub-clauses or poorly structured sentences will raise the odds of the message getting lost. No oral translation can make up for a poor presentation.
EMCI interpreters can work with any decent standard equipment. However, interpreters cannot and should not be in charge of setting up technical equipment, explain its proper use to the audience or fix technical problems. You should hire a technician to take care of the equipment, testing it and being present during the entire interpreting session. You can find many suppliers of technical conference interpretation equipment on the Internet.
In the interpreting booth
The interpreters must have a clear view to all the speakers, and any screens used during the meeting without having to stand up. It is advisable to provide the interpreters with a blank pad, as well as drinking water.
Leave a copy for each of the oral translators of any last-minute documents.
Chef de cabine
For larger conferences with a team of interpreters an experienced interpreter must always be appointed. They will act as the interpreter team leader and be in charge of communication between the interpreters and the interpretation users.
The organizers and the speakers/presenters should to any suggestion or comment made by this so-called ‘chef de cabine’. It is indeed the interpreters’ business that their working conditions are at their topmost.
Travel and accommodation
Oral translators are high-level professionals and expect to be treated accordingly. For longer conferences away from their domicile they need a good night’s sleep and eating well in order to perform their best. Bear this in mind when arranging travels, accommodation and meals, as well as breaks and meeting start time.
As soon as you have booked the interpreters, you need to email a contract or a purchase order (PO).
Conference interpreters often fill up their agenda well in advance; some bookings are made as much as a year ahead. This means that if you book a conference interpreter
and subsequently cancel for whatever reason (even force majeure), you still have to pay the full price, or at least a substantial part of it. Agree on a cancellation fee with the interpreters in the PO.
Prices are not fixed on the conference interpreting markets, though certain standards prevail. The fees should reflect the high-level expert work you pay them to do, and you should NOT expect ‘low-cost’ interpreters to be qualified to deliver high-quality work. However, you can entrust that certified EMCI interpreters deliver work at the highest level and offer fair rates.