3 Essential Pointers for Selecting a Conference Interpretation Provider

When working with a conference interpretation provider, there are certain standards and procedures that must be followed in order to ensure a successful event. These three guidelines are the first basic things to look for when choosing a qualified language services provider (LSP).

Conference Interpretation

1.)    The LSP should recruit the appropriate number of qualified interpreters  

Simultaneous interpreting is very strenuous, and thus interpreters never work alone, unless the period of time is less than forty-five minutes. They work in teams of two, taking breaks every twenty to thirty minutes. As a common practice, if the subject matter is of a highly technical nature or the workload is heavy, three interpreters may be required.

Another consideration that can facilitate recruitment and possibly help to cut costs is relay interpretation; if there are unusual language combinations, an interpreter might interpret from another interpreter, and not from the original speaker. For example, if there is a conference requiring English, French, and Mandarin, the French interpreter may not interpret from Chinese to French, but rather from the Mandarin interpreter’s English into French. This leads to less accurate translation, but can be an option for a tight budget.


2.)    The LSP should provide the interpreters with the material they need to research the subject matter and terminology

The more the interpreters know in advance about the context, subject matter, and terminology at your meeting, the better their performance will be. Who will they be interpreting for? Students? Scientists? Regulators?

–          Schedule briefings when the subject matter is highly technical

–          Provide brochures, glossaries, and marketing material

–          Provide a schedule of events and list of speakers, with their titles


3.)    The LSP should ensure that they use professional quality interpretation equipment operated by a trained technician

Essential requirements: interpreters need to hear, see and concentrate. They need a higher level of volume than other speakers (treble, bass, and volume control). Interpreters need a console with individual controls, a headset (125 to 12500 hz), a microphone that can be turned on and off, a reading lamp, and a sound-proof booth that meets ISO standards. In addition, a technician should always present to operate the soundand troubleshoot any malfunction or issues.

It is a common best practice for the interpretation provider to provide everything, equipment included, to avoid glitches the day of the conference. By following these basic guidelines, you can make an informed decision about who to trust with communication at your conference.