How to effectively communicate through an interpreter

Bear in mind that what matters in a conversation is not what you are saying, but what is understood by the recipient. In a multi-lingual discussion you are only as effective as your interpreter.


  • It is in your interests to make sure that the interpreter is aware of the subject – share your ideas or materials for erpreting in advance!
  • Plan your time carefully. Conversing through an interpreter makes conversations twice as long
  • Speak slowly and clearly pausing after two or three sentences and trying to control the urge to flavour your speech with idioms, slang, and metaphors because they are difficult to translate
  • Keep silent during interpreting
  • Remember that one interpreter cannot follow an animated conversation going back and forth across a group of people unless he or she has a multiple personality
  • Interpreters should not work for more than 45 minutes at a time without a break if he or she is needed effective and happy.

About Shaun Farrell

I have been involved in the construction sector since 1986 and over the years I have seen things change dramatically. Much of the change has been directly as a result of technology. This blog will be about the key combinations of People, Process and Technology. Any views expressed here are strictly my own.
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