Back to basics: consecutive vs. simultaneous interpretation

Back to basics: consecutive vs. simultaneous interpretation

You are organising an international event and you know that interpretation will be required. However, your search on Google has left you confused. You have discarded sign language interpretation, but you are still hesitating between hiring simultaneous or consecutive interpreters.

Here is a quick guide to both interpreting formats and the type of events they are most suited for. Want to take an informed decision on the interpreting format you need? Read on…

Back to basics

Simultaneous interpreting

Also known as conference interpreting, and sometimes referred to as real-time interpreting. Conference interpreters interpret in real-time: they speak while the presenter is speaking so that listeners receive the translation in real-time. These interpreters often work from an interpreting booth (‘the boxes in the back’ as they are often referred to) or with a tour guide system. Their audience hears them through headphones.

Suited for (amongst others):

  • international conferences
  • tours
  • lectures
  • online meetings
  • webcasts

Back to basicsConsecutive interpreting

For shorter meetings with a limited number of participants or even just two participants, a consecutive interpreter can intervene to translate the exchanges. In this interpreting format, one participant makes a statement while the interpreter makes notes. After a few minutes, the speaker pauses and  the interpreter renders the message in the other language. This happens back and forth and without any audiovisual equipment. The notes made by the interpreter are just for interpreting purposes and are not the minutes of the meeting. The meeting lasts twice as long.

Suited for (amongst others):

  • medical consultations
  • workshops
  • interviews
  • court cases
  • conversations

Would you like some advice on what type of interpretation suits your meeting purpose best? Tell us about your meeting and we will let you pick our brains.

Contact us!