Tips for speakers

Conference organizers provide interpretation in order to facilitate communication among participants who speak different languages and come from different cultures. Interpreters help you communicate your message to the audience. You can help them by following several simple rules:

  • If you have a written presentation or notes for your speech, hand them over to the conference organizer so that they can be given to the interpreters. This is important even if you don’t plan to follow your written text strictly. Interpreters do not simply translate words but interpret their meaning, and to be able to do this they have to familiarize themselves with your topic and specific terminology. You will continue to be free to depart from your original text as much as you wish. Interpreters are bound by professional secrecy, and therefore the content of your speech will not be divulged to third parties, and your original document will be returned to you at your request.
  • If you are presenting a technical text, provide the interpreters with all the necessary terminology and any additional materials on the subject-matter in other languages. You can ask the organizer to set up a meeting with the interpreters. Such a meeting can resolve possible misunderstandings and will positively impact the quality of interpretation.
  • If you want to show a film or slides, provide the interpreters with a copy of the script and print-out of the slides, because the booths are often too far away from the screen for the text to be legible.
  • When reading out the presentation, the speaker often inadvertently increases his/her pace, and the audience finds it difficult to follow or loses a part of the message, especially through interpretation. If you have never spoken at a meeting with interpretation, you should time yourself. The ideal reading speed is about three minutes per page (thirty lines).
  • Before you begin to speak, check whether the microphone is switched on. Tapping the microphone or blowing into it will produce unpleasant noise in the interpreters’ headphones. In order to check the microphone, simply say a few words, for instance “Good morning” or “Thank you, Mr Chairman”.
  • Don’t speak too close to the microphone and don’t leave a wireless receiver too close to it in order to avoid interference and whistling. The technician will show you how the system works.
  • If, during the presentation, you have to move away from the stand to show something on the screen, use the mobile microphone. Without it, the interpreters won’t hear you, no matter how loud you speak.
  • If you are speaking at the stand and want to answer participants’ questions, have a wireless receiver and headphones with you so that you can follow the interpretation of the questions.