Advice for speakers

For interpreting to be good, speakers need to be aware that their presentation is going to be translated.


A few tips from AICE:

Anybody speaking in public feels somewhat nervous. This tends to make them speak quicker than usual, perhaps with the underlying idea that in this way they can swiftly get the whole ordeal over and done with.


If you add to this the fact that interpreting requires a spoken message to be reformulated (listened to, understood, translated and spoken), then there is a slight delay in receiving the translated version.


So, if your speech is going to be translated into another language, remember to slow down slightly or take short pauses. In this way you will be contributing to efficient multilingual communication.


If you have decided to read your speech, you need to follow the previous advice even more so. When we read out loud, it is natural to speed up. Additionally, increased density of ideas and the type of language used, together mean that comprehension of a written text is more difficult to take in than an off-the-cuff speech. In other words when we read, we require listeners to make a greater effort. You can help, quite simply by slowing down and providing interpreters with a copy of the written text.

Interpreters are listening to you through headsets that pick up the sound from the fixed or roving microphone you are using. If you speak directly into the microphone they will be able to hear you better.

Whether you just have an outline of what you are going to say or a full written text (even if you are not planning to read it word for word), provide a copy to the interpreters as far in advance as possible.


In this way the interpreters who are going to be translating you have an idea of the content, meaning you will get your message across better.

If you are thinking of showing slides during your presentation, send a copy of them to the interpreters with sufficient time to be prepared.


If your presentation is too big to be sent via e-mail, send a version in PDF or a link to an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) page. AICE professional interpreting ethics mean that any documents you provide will remain confidential.


If you are going to be showing a DVD with narration and you wish this to be translated, provide the interpreters with a copy or a transcription of the narration before the session begins. It is also useful if the interpreters can see the video beforehand so they can confirm that it is possible to interpret the recording.

Make sure interpreters can see your presentation and any DVD or audiovisual material you are presenting from where they are located.

A lot of humour is used in presentations, as it is well accepted by the audience. Humour is used to relax the atmosphere and to arouse the curiosity of the audience. However, use it in small doses and in the appropriate places. The worst thing that can happen to any speaker is to tell a joke that receives no laughter, not because you didn’t tell it properly, but because nobody understood you.


Many jokes make cultural references or are a play on words. Outside a given geographical or linguistic context they may lose all their meaning. For this reason we recommend you tell your team of interpreters about your jokes beforehand so they can advise you on whether they can be translated into other languages – thus avoiding embarrassing situations.

At the end of your speech there may be a Q & A session and you may be asked a question in a language you do not speak. If you want to hear in your own language, don’t forget to take a headset with you to the speaker’s podium!

You may not realise how useful it is to organize a brief informative meeting with your team of interpreters before the conference begins.


Make use of this time to explain any concepts or key terms you will be using during your presentation.

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