How to do simultaneous interpreting?

Watching a news show, you may noticed politicians and leading figures in society, opinion leaders or professional sportsmen or artists wearing headphones at international meetings to communicate with their peers. But have you ever wondered how the headset works and what goes on in the background? If yes, you have come to the right place as we will be telling you about simultaneous interpreting in this article. Simultaneous interpreting can be described in a nutshell as the instant translation of speeches at conferences, congresses, live broadcasts, meetings, press conferences etc. They are especially required for events where speed and professionalism matter.

Simultaneous interpreting is an extremely complicated process that requires a highly concentrated mind at work.  During such events, the interpreter and the speaker are separated by sound-insulating booths. Also, special equipment is set up at the venue that allows the interpreter to hear the speaker, and not the other way around. Interpreters are sat in a booth with a ventilation system and lighting that has sound insulation in which at least two people can work comfortably. In terms of how interpreting actually works, the interpreter provides an instantaneous translation of the words spoken by the translator; and the translated word is transmitted to listeners with only a minor delay of a few seconds. Commonly, there are two interpreters in a booth, so that one can take over from the other during long events. Depending upon the nature of the speech and how demanding the topic is, interpreters usually take it in turns translating speeches, working no longer than twenty straight minutes. Simultaneous interpreters must perform a number of cerebral activities simultaneously and smoothly, such as using short-term memory, constructing sentences in a foreign language, active listening and analysis. Any interpreter competent at their job must have solid education, ample experience and impeccable work discipline.

What makes for a more effective and quality interpreting service is the mastery of the topic being discussed at an international organization, meetings or conference. For example, not being proficient in terminology at a legal congress or a medical congress attended by lawmen or medical experts can cause mistranslations and communication problems. Prior to the event, the owner of the event should collaborate with the project management team; actively review and approve the terminology to be used by the interpreters; provide a short briefing for the interpreting team about the event; bring the team up to speed about any acronyms, special terminology that may come up during the event. Doing so will help maximize the quality of the interpreting service and the level of customer satisfaction.


Now that we have covered the basics, let’s see what advantages simultaneous interpreting brings. Challenges thrown up by setting up an ideal interpreting environment pale in comparison to the communication advantages it offers. First of all, it is an efficient way of delivering communication at multi-lingual events. It is the perfect solution for crowded events like congresses and conferences, where all guests can have speeches translated to them at the same time via headsets, making personal, face-to-face translation unnecessary. In today’s fast-paced world, where it is more important than ever to make good use of time, simultaneous translation of speeches into different languages makes sure that no time is lost or wasted. Providing a language service in different languages for participants from all over the world draws speakers from different nationalities, giving the event an international character.


Consequently, as we near the end of the article, it would not be off the mark to predict that the need and demand for simultaneous interpreting will be greater than ever in today’s increasingly globalized world. With the gradual removal of borders in an ever globalizing world, the number of international seminars, congresses or conferences in the fields of trade, science, medicine, tourism and many other areas is increasing day by day. In all these settings, the need for simultaneous translation services will gradually increase in order to ensure smooth and effective communication between your target audience and participants and to allow your participants to actively participate in the events. Contact Transistent’s network of professional linguists for all your simultaneous translation needs and questions and benefit from our advantageous offers tailored to your needs.

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