Best Practices When Using an On-Site Interpreter
On-site interpretation (OSI) allows people who may not speak the same language to have a meaningful discussion. OSI services offer a lot of advantages over their telephone- or video conference-based brethren. By having every participant in a room together, the conversation may flow more easily. Plus, non-verbal communication can be a larger part of the equation, potentially reducing misunderstandings.
The interpreter relays what’s shared, ensuring they are conveying core meaning of all statements to other participants. While it may seem like using an on-site interpreter would be incredibly simple, even small missteps in managing the discussion can lead to confusion. That’s why following certain best practices when using an on-site interpreter is so critical.
If you want to make sure that your next conservation that uses an interpreter can flow freely, here’s what you need to know.
Best Practices When Using an On-Site Interpreter
Start with a Quick Briefing
When working with an interpreter, jumping into a conversation with the other participants shouldn’t be your first step. Instead, you need to introduce the interpreter to the discussion that’s about to take place.
By starting with a quick briefing, you can familiarize the interpreter with the kind of content that will be shared. Additionally, you can clarify any complex terminology, discuss points where cultural misunderstandings are most likely, and otherwise get on the same page. That way, when other participants become part of the equation, the interpreter is well-prepared.
Be Aware of Seating Arrangements
With OSI services, you’ll have a minimum of three people present during the discussion: you, the other participant, and the interpreter. Often, it’s best to have the conversations while seated. By doing so, you can position everyone in a way that makes the talk easier.
Ideally, you want to ensure that you’re facing the participants, not the interpreter, during the conversation. As a result, it’s best to be seated across the table from the person or people you’re talking to, allowing you to focus on them. Additionally, sitting near the head of the table is best.
By then placing the interpreter at the head of the table, they can hear what’s being shared with greater ease. Additionally, since the interpreter isn’t sat next to any particular participant, this increases the odds that everyone will view them as a neutral party.
Make Eye Contact with the Other Participants
When using an on-site interpreter, your natural inclination may be to make eye contact with them. However, that isn’t the best approach.
It’s important to remember that you aren’t actually having a conversation with the interpreter. Instead, it’s the other participants to whom you’re speaking, so you want to make eye contact with them.
Good eye contact helps build a rapport and a sense of trust, making the connection with the other participants stronger. Additionally, it can help you spot non-verbal communication cues that could help you during the discussion.
Speak Slowly and Clearly, But Not Overly Loud
When you are using an on-site interpreter, you want to speak both slowly and clearly. Make sure your cadence isn’t overwhelming and that you focus on enunciating your words. By doing so, you’re making it easier for the interpreter to take in what you’re sharing.
It’s also wise to pause regularly. That way, the interpreter can share what you’re saying in logical segments, creating an optimal flow for the conversation at large.
However, don’t automatically increase your speech volume if yours is normally reasonable. Being louder won’t help unless you tend to speak very softly. Instead, there’s a good chance that it will come across as aggressive, particularly to the other participants that don’t speak your language.
Create a Distraction-Free Space
During an in-person meeting that involves an interpreter, minimizing potential distractions is essential. Any kind of interruption can derail the conversation, potentially causing critical information to get missed.
Make sure that you’re in a room with a door you can close, preferably one that you can reserve, or otherwise note that a private meeting is in progress. Not only will this keep the discussion confidential – something applicable regulations, such as HIPAA, may mandate – but it also reduces the odds that someone will walk into the room unexpectedly.
Additionally, silence any phones that are under your control, and since 97 percent of adults in the U.S. own some kind of cellphone, encourage other participants to do the same. That way, incoming calls, messages, or notifications aren’t likely to draw any attention away from the conversation.
Consider closing the blinds or curtains if you’re in a room with a window that faces a high-traffic area, such as a busy sidewalk. This ensures that the movement of passersby doesn’t distract the participants.
Do You Need an On-Site Interpreter?
If you require professional on-site interpretation services, Acutrans can help. Acutrans provides OSI services – as well as telephone and remote interpretation – along with certified, notarized translations. If you need an on-site interpreter, the Acutrans team can offer a fast, reliable solution. Contact us for a free quote today.