How To Ruin Your Next Multilingual Event

How To Ruin Your Next Multilingual Event
August 6, 2015

3 steps to failure at your next multilingual event


There are a few surefire ways to set your simultaneous interpreters up for failure at your next multilingual event. (Clearly we are pointing these out so that you DO NOT commit any of these mistakes.) Conference interpreting is a complex and difficult profession requiring precision, training and preparation. INGCO International has over 15 years of experience in the language service industry and we’ve seen all of these mistakes, and more.

We hope that by pointing out how to fail, you’ll learn how to succeed.


  1. Failure #1: Don’t provide your interpreters with preparation material.

Yes, we are incredible amazing and talented linguists. But just like every profession on the face of the planet, we need to be prepared. Failing to provide us with preparation material is basically setting us up for failure.

Let us give you an example.

We recently provided simultaneous interpreting at the prestigious Starkey Hearing Foundation Gala. We interpreted for President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton, and comedian Norm Crosby. In preparation for this event, we spent approximately 15 hours preparing for a 5-hour event.

We received a transcript of all of the speeches and learned them inside and out. No, we didn’t just read a translation of the speeches because all speakers make changes on the fly. Being fully prepared for the speeches allowed us to convey the complete meaning and emotional appeal of the speakers. The act of simultaneous interpreting is so intense that preparing for every detail in advance is a surefire way to achieve success, not failure.

  1. Failure #2: Don’t hire a minimum of 2 interpreters per language.

Simultaneous interpreting is really hard and tiring work. We’re talking about stressing out the caudate nucleus of the brain for multiple hours. One person cannot do simultaneous interpreting alone, it just doesn’t work. Expecting one person to listen to complex messages, process them into another language, and push them out to the audience while simultaneously listening to the next message requires constant brain work and puts a lot of stress on the highly trained linguist.

Trust us: one person cannot do this job alone.

We have been asked to do companies a favor because it’s simply not in their budget to hire two professional conference interpreters. We are in the business of interpreting because we love to help people communicate and believe in equal access to communication, so yes, we like to help. But help and hindrance are two vastly different things. Sending one simultaneous interpreter into the battlefield of interpreting is exactly like sending one soldier into the battlefield of war.

  1. Failure #3: Don’t hire a professional interpreter.

This is our favorite comment: “Just get someone that speaks Spanish, anyone can do this.” Um well no, “anyone “cannot do this. I know how to brush my teeth, so does that mean I am qualified to be a dental hygienist? Obviously not. Speaking a language does not qualify anyone as a simultaneous interpreter. There are years of practice and studying that go into preparing a professional interpreter for challenging simultaneous interpretations. Simultaneous interpretation is widely considered a professional skill and an internationally revered profession. Failing to hire a professional interpreter will surely leave the audience in the dark.

It’s true that interpreters are often heard yet rarely seen.

Our simultaneous interpreting skill set and training is much deeper than just speaking two languages. We work hard to accurately and completely convey complex messages and are proud to be your voice when you need to speak to the world.

Don’t follow our 3 steps to failure and your next multilingual event will be a success.


INGCO International, based in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is proud to provide the very best simultaneous and consecutive interpreters in over 200 languages across the globe. We look forward to talking to you about your next multilingual event and helping you make it a smashing success. Contact us today.