Materials for preparation
In order to prepare properly for a particular subject, the interpreters need to be given the materials for the conference in good time. These may include written papers, minutes, agendas and proceedings from previous meetings, company brochures, glossaries of technical terms, etc. Interpreters are bound by professional secrecy, which includes all the information acquired during their assignment.
Written speeches are the most important information for interpreters, especially if the presentation is not delivered freely, but read out.
Written texts follow different rules from a free speech: the sentence structure is more complex and there are many embedded sentences. Reading is a mechanical process and there are no pauses, whereas interpreting is a complex process of analysis and formulation of thoughts, which takes a certain time and is never mechanical.
The same applies to listening. Listeners cannot fully grasp all the information contained in a technical presentation read out at great speed, even if it is given in their mother tongue.
At large meetings, one person who is familiar with the conference agenda and is in contact with the speakers should be entrusted with the task of providing the interpreters with the written texts (speeches etc.).
The Pace of Speeches and Presentations
Sentence structure differs from language to language. Therefore sentences often have to be restructured in interpretation. Besides, since some notions have to be clarified, the interpretation may be longer than the original speech. These are just some of the reasons why the interpretation of a text that is read out too fast can be only given in a summarized form. In such a case, an important part of the information can be lost or misinterpreted, or the logical structure of an idea can be lost.
Speakers must make sure that they do not speak too fast so that the interpreters and the audience can follow them. The recommended reading speed is three minutes for a page of thirty lines.
The speaker’s non-verbal messages (gestures, facial expressions, body language), diagrams and tables are also important sources of information. It is therefore important for the quality of the interpretation that the booths be placed in such a way that the interpreters can see the speaker.