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Written by Javier Arizpe

September 23, 2020

Tips for Conference Interpretation


There’s a lot of pressure when performing an interpretation at a conference, as it is easier to make mistakes when working simultaneously an oral discourse than translating documents that should be delivered one or several days after being received.

In a conference, the interpreters not only translate the words of the speakers, they convey the ideas in a concrete and direct way, respecting the message but providing some elements to understand its meaning in the target language.

If you are enthusiastic about improving yourself in the interpretation area, then we think you could use the following tips.


Get to know the different types of interpretation

There are several types of interpretation: consecutive interpretation, where the professional listens and takes notes to express those ideas in another language; simultaneous interpretations, in which the message is transmitted in real time while the interpreter is in a booth; Bilateral interpretation, in which the interpreter must translate the language between two speakers during talks or negotiations; whispered interpretations, which is also given in real time, but to a limited number of participants because as indicated by the name, the interpreter whispers the message.

When interpreting at conferences, the most common is the simultaneous interpretation in which our short term memory is used more.



This step not only applies to the days before a conference, but to any day in the life of an interpreter. It’s important to know that if you want to work as an interpreter, preparation is key.

Some of the methods that interpreters use to prepare include, language immersion by residing in a foreign country and, of course, follow national and international news outlets.

Reading is also essential to increase our knowledge in a number of areas that at some point you might have to interpret at a conference. However, depending on whether you want to specialize in a particular area you can focus on specific topics, for example: engineering, medicine, law, etc.


Voice care

Interpreters know that their voices is their main tool of work at events, that is why it is essential to use it in the best way possible so that it is not affected during the day at work.

It is recommended to sleep well the night before the conference because the vocal cords are muscles that relax during sleep, you must drink enough water and try not to strain your voice when you speak. Microphones exist so we don’t have to yell.

Additionally, I suggest you to exercise your voice every day. Read aloud and record yourself and then listen if you have pronounced all the words correctly. Remember that your interpretation must be understandable, so don’t forget to enunciate and, of course, speak with the correct volume.

Finally, I advice you that during the conference you will benefit from maintaining a proper posture. A bad position won’t let you take the amount of air needed to speak well. Regardless of whether we have a bad or uncomfortable chair, we must keep a proper posture.



Conferences usually last more than an hour and interpretations that last over an hour and a half require the work of two interpreters. From the time of preparation until the day of the event, you must learn to work as a team.

A professional interpreter must prepare, investigate and to make glossaries, of course if there are two people studying, a lot more can be covered because of the shared workload.

The same happens at the time of the Conference, you must work as a team, while one of you interprets, the other one writes or looks for terms to support his or her partner. If one of you needs to rest, the other person is in charge of continuing the interpretation.

My last advice for you is to never stop practicing. We all know that interpretation requires certain skills that are innate, however practice makes perfect and if you really want to work as a conference interpreter, you can achieve it with perseverance, preparation and practice.


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