Best Practices When Using an Over-the-Phone Interpreter

over the phone interpreter

Best Practices When Using an Over-the-Phone Interpreter

Over-the-phone interpretation (OPI) is a great option when two people who don’t speak the same language need to communicate. Additionally, OPI services have certain advantages over video-remote and in-person alternatives. Over-the-phone interpretation is incredibly accessible, requiring only a telephone to participate. Plus, it’s typically low-cost.

During a call using OPI, the interpreter relays what each participant shares, ensuring the other can understand the core meaning behind everything spoken. Further, they can play a critical role in eliminating cultural misunderstandings, facilitating more meaningful and accurate discussions.

However, if you want the call to be successful, following certain OPI best practices is essential. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are some tips.

Best Practices When Using an Over-the-Phone Interpreter

Have a Thorough Pre-Call Briefing Session

Before speaking with the other participants present, spend some time briefing the interpreter on the conversation that’s going to talk place. Along with explaining your role in the discussion, outline who the other participants are and the main purpose for the call.

Additionally, mention any complex terms that you plan to use. That way, the interpreter can ask questions if needed and find a suitable translation before the other participants join the conversation.

Use a Landline (or Check Your Signal in Advance)

While you can reach an over-the-phone interpreter using any phone, mobile devices can have signal issues. If the connection isn’t stable, parts of the conversation may cut in and out. As a result, any participants may have trouble understanding one another, requiring parts of the discussion to be repeated before you can move forward.

If you want to reduce the likelihood of technology-related disruptions, either opt for a landline or check your signal in your preferred calling location in advance. With a landline, connectivity isn’t typically a problem. Similarly, in areas with strong signals, mobile phones can allow for clear conversation. So, take a moment to make sure you have an option available for a smooth call.

Choose a Noise-Free Location for the Call

Background noise can often be picked up by phone handsets, disrupting the call and making it harder for other participants to understand what you’re sharing. Before you call, make sure you are in a noise-free environment.

Don’t conduct the call outdoors, especially if you are near busy roadways or in a city area with a lot of foot traffic. Additionally, calling from your car isn’t ideal, regardless of whether you’re driving or parked. In both cases, background noise can be an issue.

Usually, an office or room with a door you can close is best. Before the call, make sure the windows are closed, especially if you’re in a busy area. Additionally, you may want to shut any blinds or curtains, further shielding you from the sounds of the outside world.

Use Short, Focused Sentences

When you’re using any kind of interpreter, it is usually best to be concise. That way, you can focus on critical pieces of information, eliminating any conversational fluff that can distract from the main message.

However, when you’re using OPI services, brevity is critical. When a sentence is long and full of filler words, the interpreter will have a harder time in their role. Most interpreters can only track so much information mentally at once. When a sentence is meandering, the odds that they’ll struggle to keep it all in mind go up.

Additionally, the interpreter may have little choice but to abruptly interrupt you to share what you’ve already said. They can’t use a subtle visual cue to signal that they need a minute, so a verbal interjection may be the interpreter’s only option. Otherwise, they may have to ask you to repeat yourself, disrupting the flow of conversation.

Using short, focused sentences makes it easier for the interpreter to share what you’re discussing. It’s simpler to track the core message of each sentiment. Plus, there will be natural points where they can relay what you’ve said to other participants.

Remember That Visual Cues Aren’t Present

When deciding how to express a particular thought, remember that visual cues aren’t present during phone-based conversations. Since neither the interpreter nor other participants can factor in facial expressions or body language, misunderstandings are more likely.

For example, it can be hard to gauge whether a person is being serious or sarcastic based on their voice alone. As a result, it’s best to avoid any ambiguity. Instead, be straightforward, choosing words, phrases, and tones with clear meanings.

Do You Need an Over-the-Phone Interpreter?

If you require professional over-the-phone interpretation services, Acutrans can help. Acutrans provides OPI services in over 200 languages – as well as in-person and video-remote interpretation – along with certified, notarized translations. If you need an OPI interpreter, the Acutrans team can offer a reliable, comprehensive solution. Contact us for a free quote today.