Why Choosing Quality Simultaneous Interpreters Matters

By David Mendoza GAICD

If you are hosting guests from overseas who may not speak English well and you want to make sure they are welcomed and included in your event, you must consider interpreting services – especially simultaneous or ‘live’ interpreting (also called “conference interpreting”).

John Zhou, NAATTI Level 4 in the Interpreting Booth

In an increasingly globalised Australia, events drawing attendees from different countries and language backgrounds rely heavily on experienced simultaneous NAATI interpreters. Think industry summits in tech or finance, sporting competitions, bilateral meetings and even workshops and large-scale events.

For instance, at the Mastercard Summit 2023 in Sydney and at Cisco Live in Melbourne, CHIN supplied conference interpreters in multiple languages along with simultaneous interpreting equipment. Both events welcomed international guests, customers and partners to learn about products, trends, and initiatives. Given that not all participants were fluent in English, the presence of simultaneous interpreters was critical to ensuring clear understanding for all guests. It was one of the main reasons why both summits were such successful events. Not only that, doing it ‘live’ or in real time meant that no time was lost through interpreting and everyone felt included.

Interpreting Booths for Multiple Languages at the G20 in 2014

Unfortunately, more often than not, booking simultaneous interpreters often becomes an afterthought relegated to event agencies. This can result in last-minute scrambles, searching Google for a trustworthy and respected translation company that can provide a pair of NAATI-conference interpreters. In the worst-case scenario, the necessary interpreting equipment may not even be available for your event. Imagine the frustration and missed opportunities: key presentations lost in translation, missed networking opportunities, and valuable insights inaccessible to a portion of your audience – embarrassing. It’s a scenario no event organiser wants to face.

To ensure this doesn’t happen at your event, plan ahead and talk to your language translation provider as soon as possible. Below is our advice to our clients and points to consider when booking simultaneous interpreters for your event.

7 Pointers for Booking Simultaneous Interpreters for Your Event:

1. Book experienced simultaneous interpreters

Ensure that you ask for CVs and confirm that the interpreters you hire have simultaneous interpreting experience. Simply having a NAATI qualification is not enough when it comes to conference interpreting. We’ve seen far too many examples of ambitious interpreters accepting a well paid simultaneous interpreting booking only to quit after 10 minutes because they couldn’t do it. So, be sure to do your due diligence before hiring interpreters for your event.

2. Event interpreting is a two person job

Simultaneous interpreting is a mentally strenuous task. To get an idea of what it’s like, imagine turning on the radio and repeating every word that the presenter says, live, word for word. Doing this without missing a single word for even 2 minutes can be difficult for those who are not trained. Now, imagine doing the same thing but converting English into another language! That’s why it’s necessary to have two simultaneous interpreters booked for any event. They work in tandem, each interpreting in 20-minute blocks, to prevent mental fatigue and maintain the best performance.

Prof Charles Qin OAM, NAATI Level 5 Conference Interpreter in the Booth with Jin Xin
3. Plan for essential interpreting equipment

It is important to ensure that the language company you hire can provide simultaneous interpreting equipment. Depending on your requirements, you can choose from microphones, interpreting desks, soundproof interpreter booths, headphones with pocket receivers, or even remote interpretation or tour guide equipment for factory or site visits. It is essential not to underestimate the importance of having the right simultaneous interpreting equipment.

4. Plan for the set up and pack up time

In addition to sourcing the equipment is setting it up at the venue. Your language partner should be able to assist you with this process, known as bump in and bump out. The team usually takes 2 to 3 hours to set up booths, microphones, interpreters’ desk and to test receivers and transmitters. It’s important to know venue policies regarding setup times, as some venues have strict policies. It’s also a good idea to obtain a map of the venue including loading bays to plan the location of the interpreting booth. We recommend placing the booths in clear sight of the platform where speeches will be given. If there are presentations, please ensure that interpreters have a copy.

5. Partner with the venue’s audio-visual team:

When confirming venue details, ensure you clarify the availability of an audio-visual team to handle interpreting booth audio connections. Although this may seem like an afterthought, it’s better to have it sorted out beforehand so that the team responsible for setting up can get in and out as quickly as possible on the first day. We can advise on best practice.

Prof Charles Qin OAM, NAATI Level 5 in Interpreting Booth with Two More Interpreters for a Full-day Event
6. Have instructions for attendees

Provide easy-to-understand instructions on how to use the headsets to access the translated audio feed. It is also recommended to train event organisers on using the headsets so they can assist attendees with any issues they may have. In addition, have a process for collecting the headsets from attendees. This is a very common issue where headsets are taken by mistake, and the event organisers are required to pay for replacements as outlined in our contract. Each receiver costs around $600, so it’s important to ensure all are returned. The interpreting company can take care of the collection, but this comes with additional fees. So, it is important to know who will handle the collection of headsets.

7. Provide interpreters with materials

Simultaneous interpreting is a highly demanding task that requires a lot of mental effort. That’s why interpreters need any materials that can help them prepare in advance, such as agendas, presentations, speeches, and information that will be covered during the event. This allows interpreters to create glossaries, ensuring that they use the correct industry-standard terms in the other language and guarantee consistency in word usage by both interpreters.

Prof. Charles Qin, OAM, NAATI Level 5 – Just Another Day in the Office

We hope the above pointers will help you at your next event. Because every attendee deserves to have a clear understanding of what is discussed,  no matter what their native language is. By working with the best simultaneous interpreters, such as those provided by CHIN, you can ensure that your event shines – let us guide you there! Email info@chincommunications.com.au or call 1300 792 446.


Got a question? We’d love to hear from you


Level 4, 221 Queen Street, Melbourne 3000
GPO Box 2231, Melbourne 3001

P. 1300 792 446
F. 03 9670 0766


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