Current Trends in Conference Interpreting

June 3, 2016

Conference interpreting is an ever-evolving profession responding to many factors such as technology and the global economy. The times they are a changin’ and conference interpreting is changing with them. Keeping up with the current trends in conference interpreting will lead to successful global events.

What is conference interpreting?

Conference interpreting is on-site simultaneous interpreting utilizing a minimum of two interpreters per language that work in tandem. The teams perform within a soundproof interpreting booth to remit the information presented to the audience in another language, through the use of electronic audio visual equipment.

Conference interpreting is like managing a backstage crew for a lively Beyoncé show. Interpreters work “shows” as an integral part of the magic that high-performance shows bring to the audience – the lights, the camera, the action, and the emotion. Conference interpreting brings the light of the linguistic talent, the camera of the technology, the action of the event production. The interpreters create the emotion.

After years of specialized training, conference interpreters are way beyond bilingual and share a unique talent that is very rare across the globe. Conference interpreting is such a specialized profession that there are less than 500 such professionals working in the United States. They are in high-demand and their schedules book up a year or two in advance of an assignment.

Current Trends


An obvious trend that has touched every single industry is technology.

Just look at how much technology has changed our lives in the past 10 years. It’s weekly that I have the “when I was your age we didn’t even have computers!” conversation with my 10-year old son. He rolls his eyes with frustration when the Wi-Fi is lagging (or maybe it’s at my repetitive story). But it’s true, and technology has affected our industry like every other industry. And no, I’m not talking about Google Translate. Computers and technology will never ever be able to do what our amazingly talented linguists do across the world. But our conference interpreters are able to do what they do with greater efficiency thanks to technology.

Readily available internet access means that our conference interpreters don’t need to arrive on-site with a suitcase full of dictionaries – now they keep that information at hand via a tablet or iPad. We can also update our interpreting team at the drop of a hat with updated presentations and schedule changes. The advancement of wireless interpreting equipment means that we no longer have to risk the lives of conference attendees by draping cables across halls and doorways. We’ve come so far, and the exciting part? How much further will we go? Oh, we’ll never know until we get there but it’s going to be one heck of a fun ride along the way!

Another trend that has touched every industry is the global economy.

The global economy is constantly in flux and we would be remiss not to mention the effect of the global economy on conference interpreting. As the world “shrinks” and our accessibility to far flung corners of the world expands, conference interpreters are sent off to faraway places. They are expected to perform their skills and talents atop mountains and barren deserts and deep within cavernous high-security and top-secret meeting rooms. While these destinations are exciting, the toll on the requirements of the conference interpreter are great. We are expected to provide seamless high quality sound and video coverage of the entire event.

Setting up and managing an ISO-certified interpreting booth in a staging trailer with a direct video line via a monitor within the trailer with perfect audio sound from a presenter atop a pyramid to an audience of 200 in coliseum-like seating in a remote corner of Central America is no easy feat. The expanding global economy is pushing us to perform is ways we never dreamed possible. And we love a challenge!


INGCO International is a global leader for high-profile conference interpreting.

Conference interpreting is an integral part of the global communication puzzle. It’s a fast-paced and exciting profession. It’s a demanding and stressful profession, too. INGCO International is proud to work with premier caliber interpreters across the globe at high-profile events for heads of state, global fortune 100 company executives and world famous sporting events, to name a few. We look forward to working with you to make your next global event a huge success. Contact us today.