What is simultaneous interpretation
When interpreting simultaneously, an interpreter translates the speech of a presenter in real-time. Unlike in consecutive interpreting, this way the natural flow of the speaker is not disturbed and allows for a fairly smooth output for the listeners.
✓ Happens in real-time
When simultaneous interpretation is most useful
Because there are no pauses for the interpreter to stop and think through the speech during simultaneous interpretation, this type of interpretation is best-suited for large-scale events where the delay in the delivery of the speech could ruin the experience of the event.
✓ Saves time
✓ Does not disturb the natural flow of the speaker
On the downside, simultaneous interpretation is quite stressful for the interpreters because they have to do their best in a very limited time and they usually don’t know the text until they hear it (just the topic).
Take care of the translation equipment
Traditional simultaneous interpretation equipment
Event organizers usually choose traditional conference interpreting equipment (hardware) to make sure that all attendees can understand the speaker well.
How does simultaneous interpretation with traditional hardware look:
✓ The speaker talks into a microphone.
✓ His or her speech is broadcasted to the interpreter who sits in a sound-proof interpreter booth and listens through headphones.
✓ As the interpreter listens to the speech, he or she translates it in real-time into a microphone.
✓ The interpretation is transmitted wirelessly to the headphones of the event attendees.
Things to have in mind before renting or buying simultaneous interpretation hardware.
1. How big your audience is going to be?
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Having organized everything to the last detail, you really don’t want to put it all to waste by being short of receivers. Make sure to find out the most exact number of attendees possible, so you could determine the number of headsets needed. Have a backup, too.
2. How many languages will be needed?
Credit: Vladislav Klapin
Having figured out the size of your audience, figure out into how many languages the event will have to be translated. This number will determine the number of transmitters needed. Transmitters can be both portable and stationary and they allow to broadcast interpretation in real-time via radio waves. Which brings us to the next question.
3. Do you need a portable system? How portable?
Credit: Brooke Cagle
Broadly speaking, all interpretation hardware systems are portable, but the degree of portability differs depending on power and the ease of set up. You can read more about translation systems below.
4. Where will interpreters sit?
Credit: Katie Montgomery
It’s very important to find the best possible location for the interpreters. Their work requires a lot of concentration and is really stressful, so make sure to set-up their sound-proof booth in the location where they feel most comfortable and can see the speaker.
5. Will the transmitter reach the receiver?
If you’re planning on renting or buying equipment that uses infrared signals to transmit the speech and the interpretation, you should make sure that the space between the transmitter and the receiver is not obstructed with walls or any other opaque objects. If you cannot guarantee that, you should get translation equipment that uses an FM system.
Interpretation system types: which one to choose?
A. Infrared systems
This technology uses invisible pulses of light to transmit the translation feed. The attendees receive the stream to their headphones via multi-channel receivers.
Things to be aware of:
✓ This system is sensitive to obstruction, so they must be placed in front of the listeners (in a clear line of sight).
✓ That being said, they also can’t be covered with such objects like curtains or drapes, so you will have to put aesthetics aside for the sake of good sound quality.
✓ You should also pay attention to the light in the room where the infrared system is set up – very bright or flashing lights can interfere with infrared systems.
✓ If you’re planning your event in a bigger space, you will need to get several infrared emitters to increase their range.
B. Medium range FM interpretation systems (handheld)
These systems make use of radio waves to transmit the speech (either original or translated) to the attendees. Just like infrared systems, FM systems are also connected to multi-channel receivers with headphones.
What you need to know about them:
✓ These systems are light and easy to carry around, so dealing with logistics is not going be too hard.
✓ Because they are portable, they are perfect when they’re needed on-the-go.
✓ Unlike infrared systems, FM systems are not sensitive to obstructions, meaning they can penetrate walls and other opaque objects. They’re also not sensitive to light which is great if you want to organize your event outside.
✓ On the downside, their portability (smaller size) comes with a more limited range (around 250 feet), which means you will have to do your math and get an according number of FM emitters.
C. Longer range FM systems (portable)
If the venue of your event exceeds 1000 feet, you’re going to need longer range FM systems. But with great power also comes… more weight. These systems are still portable – you can move them around – but their set-up and take-down are going to take more of your time.
✓ How much power do you need? Well, it depends on how much do you care about sounds quality. Basically speaking, more power means better cancellation of radio interference, which in turn means more quality in the sound of the translation transmitted.
✓ Longer range FM systems are also more cost-effective than medium range if you have a larger audience.
✓ The biggest drawback is immobility. Yes, longer range FM interpretation systems are still portable but they’re not mobile. These transmitters are usually fixed, meaning speakers and attendees can’t move too far from them, or they will not hear the speech
Interpreter booths: the basics you need to know
First of all, interpreter booths are a must for simultaneous interpretation where traditional equipment is used. Interpreters have to be in the venue and it tends to get quite noisy. Having in mind the stress the interpreters have to endure during big conferences, it is very important to ensure they have a sound-proof working environment – that is, interpreter booths.
Credit: Oli Studholme
Interpreter booths can be either permanent or mobile. Both variants are strictly regulated by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standards relating to conference interpreting. You can read about regulations concerning permanent booths here, and mobile – here.
As for the shape, interpreter booths come as tabletop booths and as full-size interpreting booths. As the name suggests, the first ones are placed on the top of the table and are great because they’re easy to transport and set up. On the other hand, they’re open in the back, which means you can’t completely ensure comfortable work conditions for the interpreters because these booths are not fully sound-proof.
Full-size interpreter booths are like little houses. They have walls, floor, ceilings, doors and their own ventilation systems. Usually, they can fit at least two interpreters and larger booths can fit even four. Naturally, such interpreter booths are much harder to transport and assemble and require at least a couple of technicians for this task.
So, what do you need to ensure?
Credit: Joi Ito
Interpreters need to have a clear view of speakers, the podium and presentations.
Interpreters also need a great access to the Internet.
They also need to have a sufficient number of power outlets for their laptops, tablets and any other gadgets they may need to work.
High air quality is a non-negotiable for obvious reasons, too. That’s where sensors that measure CO2 step in.
Optimal acoustic conditions, meaning fans should be as quiet as possible and sound insulation from other booths should be close to perfection.
Conference translation equipment alternatives
If all the things and processes mentioned above sound a little bit too much and you need a simpler solution, there are conference translation equipment alternatives to traditional hardware.
Innovative systems for simultaneous translation
The good news for event organizers who like innovation and cost-optimization, these days there are at least a few alternatives to traditional simultaneous interpretation equipment. Various SaaS companies are successfully innovating interpreting industry by developing apps that can completely or partly change the usual translation hardware.
With such apps, you only need a laptop, internet access (wi-fi or mobile data), and a smartphone or a tablet to stream any kind of audio, be it original speech or simultaneous interpretation to as many languages as you need to.
How simultaneous interpretation apps can help you organize your even better
Simultaneous interpretation apps mobile system that streams real-time audio in attendees’ phones and fully replaces traditional translation hardware for live events. It’s here to solve such problems for event organizers as assembling translation booths, managing all the logistics related with interpreters, and fixing broken or looking for lost earphones or any other traditional translation hardware.
It’s also a breath of fresh air for attendees who would much rather grab a cup of coffee and chat with their peers instead of standing in long lines to pick up their set of headphones. Finally, it’s a game-changer for interpreters, too, as now they have an opportunity to work remotely from anywhere in the world!
Interactio simultaneous interpretation app used during an international Mary Kay conference.
→ You don’t have to organize hardware
Nothing ruins an event more than finding out the last minute that you’re out of headsets. Or that some of the interpretation equipment got lost or broken. With simultaneous interpretation apps, these things just don’t happen because when there’s nothing else needed, there’s nothing to be missed. Your attendees only need to have their phones or tablets and their own headsets.
→ You can reach a wider audience
Simultaneous interpretation apps allow for remote streaming of the translation, which means it gives you an opportunity to spread your message not only for the people in the room where the event is hosted but for people in any room in the world! Efficiency maximized.
→ Your interpreters can work remotely
Interpreting via mobile systems from anywhere in the world is beneficial for interpreters, too. Instead of sitting in airports scrolling through their Facebook feeds, waiting for their planes to get them to the venue, they can use that precious time to get more job offers. They also have more time to prepare for each event, which means they can deliver smoother interpretation. It’s a win-win situation!
→ You can forget interpreter booths
Remote interpreters also mean that you don’t need to rent and set up interpreter booths. Which not only means that you will save time and money, but also a bit of your sanity as you will not have to go through all the regulations that need to be met to set up these booths. Yay!
→ You can save costs
When you don’t need to rent or buy traditional interpretation hardware or fly in interpreters, naturally, you save money. About 50% of the costs related to simultaneous interpretation during your event to be exact. And that’s pretty cool, right?
→ The ease of set-up
Simultaneous interpretation apps are easy to set-up and very intuitive to use. Attendees simply need to install the app, connect to the wi-fi or mobile data and click on “play”. There’s nothing for them to set up in advance, they can do it all in a couple of minutes on-site.
→ You can save time
Organizers save time, too. With the need of setting up interpretation booths and other traditional equipment eliminated, event managers and other responsible people involved can shift their focus to other important tasks that help to ensure the event goes as smooth as possible.
Afraid to switch to a modern solution too fast?
Simultaneous interpretation apps are well-received among the organizers and event participants due to their sound quality and the ease of use. Interactio, for example, has already successfully been used in more than 2000 events in 32 countries. But, if you’re still are a little worried that it could fail you, you can choose a solution which is in between. Interactio is fully compatible with the usual interpretation hardware. No risk whatsoever!
Hire the right simultaneous interpreters
You have the tech in place, now it’s the time to find the right people to use it. Which means that you need to make yourself a nice cup of coffee and do your research. Where to start? We have a couple of ideas to get you going.
5 tips that will help you to find interpreters you need
1. Know what you are looking for
It may come as something obvious, but the most obvious things sometimes can be not so obvious. First things first – know your terminology. Quite often people tend to use the terms “translator” and “interpreter” synonymously, not knowing that translator deals with written word and interpreter – with spoken languages.
2. Know the importance of specialization
Just like you wouldn’t go to a hairdresser if you have a toothache (unless you strongly believe that a nice haircut will make the pain go away), you shouldn’t hire a medical interpreter for a FinTech conference. Conference interpreters are also another type of specialization, but you will get the most of your event if you hire conference interpreters that already have knowledge in the field of your event.
3. Check local and international associations
One of the safest ways to find experienced and trustworthy interpreters is to turn to associations, be it local or international, such as AIIC (the international association of conference interpreters) and ITI (the Institute of Translation and Interpreting). There you will be able to specify your research and to find interpreters experienced in your event’s field and able to work in your area.
4. Talk with people
There is hardly anything more trustworthy than word-of-mouth referrals. So, if your peers have experience in working with conference interpreters, ask around. People would not risk their reputation by referring someone unprofessional.
If you’re planning on using simultaneous interpretation apps instead of traditional hardware, you can easily kill two birds with one stone when looking for interpreters. Companies leading innovation are naturally into all things tech and they love tracking stuff and gathering information. It includes compiling databases of simultaneous interpreters they’ve worked with. So, by choosing to cooperate with such companies, you can also get from them valuable referrals to trusted interpreters and save your precious time.
Niche languages? No problem!
Finding a good interpreter who speaks popular languages and has experience in the field of the event you’re organizing can be difficult enough already. But what if you need interpretation into a rare language? Or interpretation from one rare language into another rare language? On a very specific topic? Simultaneously? This can be quite a headache. Luckily, relay interpretation and innovation are here to save the day.
Credit: Mark Rasmuson
Relay interpretation made easy
If you’re not familiar with relay interpretation, it’s a type of translation that helps when there is no one who can interpret directly from source language to target language. An intermediate interpreter is inserted in a relay mode, for instance, a French source language could be interpreted into English and then from English to Swahili. Interactio app makes relay interpretation very easy because it allows seamlessly to transmit interpretation from a source language to multiple target languages.
Biggest challenges for event managers and how innovation can help deal with them today
For more than half of event organizers (57%), budgets were the biggest challenge in 2018 (according to the study carried out by EventMB). Why not save some money interpreting with technological innovation? With Interactio translation app, you can save up to 50% of the costs related to simultaneous interpreting. Also, since about 46% of event managers use event apps, an app like Interactio will come in handy because it can be integrated in event planning apps (and app integration is relevant to 58% of the industry, as the same study reports).
It’s also worth mentioning that attendee numbers were listed as the third biggest challenge event managers face. Again, with apps like Interactio, event managers don’t have to be scared of overflow audiences because such apps allow for unlimited scalability. You won’t have to be worried anymore that attendees will not fit in the room to hear the speaker because the attendees will be able to listen to the presenter anywhere in the venue just with their phone and headphones.
Work-life balance is an important issue for almost a third of event managers. They often get overwhelmed with so many things to organize, they don’t have enough time for their personal needs. That’s where simultaneous interpretation apps step in, too. Using these apps, you can save the time needed to set up traditional translation hardware, installing interpreting booths, looking for interpreters, and more. And because you don’t have to distribute headsets and then to make sure you get them all back, you save yourself from worrying that they will get lost, or there won’t be enough of them, too.
Planning events is both an exciting and a challenging job to do, but with the right planning and well-chosen resources, many goals can be achieved in a timely and cost-saving manner. When it comes to interpretation, choosing innovative apps is a better choice money and time-wise, also, it will make your event more innovative and attendees’ experience more pleasant. However, if you’re still a bit uneasy to switch completely from traditional translation hardware, you can make a smooth, step-by-step transition by combining both traditional and new interpreting equipment solutions.