You’ve invested. Now, how can you make the most of it? Even the best interpreters in the world can’t compensate for poor audio. Or if interpreters don’t receive documentation beforehand (agenda, speaker bios, PowerPoint decks, etc.), the quality of your event will suffer.

As Conference Organizer, running through a simple checklist ahead of time will ensure that the message runs smoothly through the trusty tin can phone—and comes out clearly on the other end.

✔︎ Speakers: Please give each speaker a copy of the “Guidelines for Speakers.”

✔︎ Documentation: Interpreters have a wide range of knowledge but cannot be experts in all subjects. In order to familiarize themselves with the topic of your conference, please make sure they receive the conference papers in all languages as early as possible. They will study these documents and prepare their own glossaries. This will help them gain a better idea of the subject under discussion and understand your speakers better, especially those who have difficult accents or speak very fast. Apart from the agenda and written speeches, please send the interpreters minutes of previous meetings on the same subject, background information on the organization or association, curricula vitae for key speakers, the names of officers of the organization and speakers. Interpreters should receive the same documents sent to the delegates. When papers are circulated during the meeting, in particular texts for discussion, please ensure the interpreters obtain a copy before they are discussed. Each booth should receive at least one copy of such papers, if possible in all conference languages.

✔︎ Briefing: If the conference is very technical, it is advisable to organise a briefing between the interpreters and the speakers. Interpreters will thus be able to ask questions on terminology and procedure.

✔︎ Liaison: For smooth coordination it is advisable for you to appoint one person who will be responsible for the liaison with the interpreters through their team leader. The payment of the daily subsistence allowance, stipulated in the contract, should be handled by these two persons in the course of the meeting. Conference interpreting is team work and it would therefore be advisable to introduce the interpreters to your staff and to the technician before the meeting.

✔︎ Technical Equipment: Ensure the equipment supplier is providing the number of booths and channels required for your meeting, that the equipment is reliable and that there are enough receivers for all the delegates. Before the meeting opens, ask the consultant interpreter, or the team leader, and chief technician to check that the equipment is working properly.

✔︎ Projection: If films, slides or transparencies are to be shown and require interpretation, please ensure that the screen is clearly visible from the booths and that the interpreters have received a script or a copy of the texts to be projected in advance.

✔︎ Interpreters’ Room: If possible, make available an office or an area where the interpreters can collect documents, study conference papers when they are not working in the booth and where messages can be left for them.

Source: AIIC’s checklist for conference organisers.