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Did you brief your interpreter?

Preparation is a key element of a successful meeting where translation is needed. After all, an interpreter is there to make sure that both sides understand each other well.

Yet often clients overlook breifing an interpreter, considering it an unimportant detail. They seem to think, that a random translator is a well-versed professional deeply immersed in a number of fields: medical - oil and gas - construction – nuclear physics etc.

Here is an example from my recent assignment. A client called me with a question: "Do you do technical interpreting?” Technical is a very broad term. In fact, anything from replacing a gasket in a leaking tap in your bathroom to M-17 helicopter maintenance, let alone oil and gas exploration techniques could be considered a "technical subject".

"Don't worry, " - he said. "I won't send you any materials. No need to prepare. It's just oil and gas, general conversation, you know."

To my surprise the title of his presentations was "Automated wellhead control systems" and the topic of a discussion was PLC based control systems versus relay based. Pretty general, isn’t it? Panicking, I had to rush through the dictionary only seconds before the meeting started.

Dear clients please remember: a prepared interpreter can make your business goals come true and, most importantly, save you time and money!

As far as the illustration: that was the expression I tried to maintain through out the meeting, covering up a very stressfull anticipation of an unknown term popping up.

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