Why you need 2x interpreters for your event.

Imagine if you were required to give an eight-hour speech with a fifteen minute or so break every hour – you would be mentally and physically exhausted!

Translation Excellence explains that simultaneous interpreting is a demanding profession requiring unwavering attention to detail and an ability to analyse information at a very fast rate.

It is not uncommon for simultaneous interpreters to work 20-30 minutes at a time to prevent mental fatigue and errors in the interpretation; especially if your event is longer than 2 hours. Then two interpreters are recommended when the subject matter is highly complex with a lot of technical terminology.

By having two interpreters, they can each switch off interpreting and take mental breaks; even when resting from actively interpreting. However, they are still monitoring the original speaker and the interpretation by their colleague and are mentally taking notes (sometimes on paper as well) to insure they are ready to pick up when it’s their turn. The support never stops.

Working in a team provides great benefits that enhance the quality of the message interpreted, the experience of the client receiving the message, and it reduces potential errors under high pressure. There have been many instances where I wasn’t at my best emotionally or I just had too much on my mind and couldn’t focus properly – having someone else with me to carry the load proved valuable.

Taken from his book, Pulling Together: 10 Rules for High Performance Teamwork by John J. Murphy; I share 3 benefits of teamwork that have helped me overcome stressful situations during interpreting:

When working with a co-interpreter; I gain knowledge and unique perspectives about the assignment that I couldn’t possibly achieve on my own. Together we can apply interpreting strategies that reduce mental pressure and help to amplify the correct information.

Each time I work with a co-interpreter, I walk away feeling more confident and bolder because we’ve created a safe space to address weaknesses and leverage more on our strengths. Honest feedback builds trust and helps to identify blind spots we are unaware of.

Taking a risk on your own sometimes seems daunting because you are responsible for the outcome. However, when you work with a co-interpreter there is a safety net available should you miss the mark. A co-interpreter should always be on standby to cover your back even when things don’t go as planned.

If you are interested in booking a simultaneous interpreter for your next conference or other event, you may want to consider using more than one interpreter. It will protect the interests of the clients, ensure the emotional and physical wellbeing of the interpreters, and guarantee high-quality accessible interpreted information.

Comments/Questions? Feel free to share your thoughts.

By Yellow Owl

Welcome to Interpreter Insider, so glad you could join us! As an Insider you’ll be a member of this limited group of like-minded thinkers with exclusive knowledge about the ins and outs of the interpreting industry – and other related topics. You will have access to insights, experiences, tips and Yellow Owl's personal take on what the future of SASL interpreting may look like. Thuli Zikalala is the founder of Yellow Owl. This blog is a reflection of her bold decisions made about a year ago that led her to this very moment. It is a collection of the lessons learnt along her journey. Enjoy!

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