Speakers Guide

How to speak interpreter-friendly


-Get to know the handsigns that interpreters may use to tell you if you need to speak slowly/louder/repeat sth

-If you do a presentation, be aware that it’s going to take more time than usual, because of your reduced speed of speech.

-If you use any texts or notes that you want to read out loud during your speech, make sure to hand them to the interpreters well in advance, so they can prepare for that. It is extremely difficult to interpret a text as it is being read aloud.

-If you have a list of special terms you are going to use, you can hand it to the interpreters in advance to help them

-Be aware that word plays and jokes are hard or impossible to translate. If you don’t want to do without humour, use anecdotes instead

-Before speaking, remove your earphone, put yourself directly in front of the microphone (the closer you are to it, the less loudly you will have to speak), switch it on and announce the language you are going to speak in

Manner of speaking

-If there’s interpretation available for your mother tongue, then speak your mother tongue

-Try to speak as slowly as possible without exaggerating; If you’ve been told before that you speak too quickly, try to focus on being understood. Speaking slowly doesn’t mean to pronounce slowly, but rather to make little pauses between sentences. Breathe!

-Move close to the microphone

-If there are any special terms you are going to use, explain them the first time you use them, not only for listeners who don’t know them, but also for the interpreters who might not.

-If you’re being asked a question in a language you don’t speak, put your earphones in, ask the interpreter to repeat if neccessary, then repeat the question in your language and answer it

-Make sure to pronounce your words well, refrain from using dialect, and use easy language – gesturing helps understanding a lot as well

-Complete your sentences (try not to stop in the middle), it sounds obvious, but in the heat of a discussion this isn’t always the case

-Try to use rather short sentences and be aware of the difficulty of translating long, complex sentences, especially because the structure of sentences might be entirely different in other languages

-Also in discussions, try to be clear and not too wordy in your questions/answers/remarks

What else can I do?

– Make sure the interpreter can see the front of your body, especially your face
– Connect to the interpreter from time to time, make eye contact and let them give you signs, whether you should slow down/speak louder etc. – to make this work, let the interpreter know before your speech that you will do this.
– Be aware at all times, that your interpreter is NOT a professional – the interpreters are just people like you, that joined this event and offer their knowledge of languages to the community.
– Most of them will not have done interpretation before, so please be thoughtful
– After the speech, share feedback with the interpreters