Website 15.07.2024

The right method for each purpose.

There are a number of different interpreting methods. And there is always one that ideally suits your needs. The various types of conference interpreting are:

Simultaneous interpreting
Most people have heard simultaneous interpreters on TV. In simultaneous interpreting, the speaker's words are translated simultaneously. Two interpreters sit in a soundproof booth with special technical equipment. Why two? Simultaneous interpreting demands an extremely high level of concentration. One interpreter on their own can perform this challenging task for at most 20 to 30 minutes at a time; then their colleague takes over. So there are always two interpreters, each taking turns. The active interpreter listens to the speaker through headphones and translates their words simultaneously, speaking into a microphone. Listeners can then hear the translation in the language they understand. The advantages of simultaneous interpretation are obvious: it saves time and thus money, and listeners can follow the conference in real time – which is especially important when presentations are being given. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that simultaneous interpreting requires special equipment, most importantly a soundproof interpreters’ booth with audio equipment. I would be happy to help you organise the technical equipment you need.
Consecutive interpreting
The speaker delivers his or her speech (or a part of it, depending on its length) while the interpreter takes notes using a special note-taking method. She then delivers the speech in the required language. The advantage: no special technical equipment is needed. The disadvantage is the time factor, especially when a speech has to be interpreted into several languages. Consecutive interpreting is mainly used for highly official events, or if interpretation is needed only for a relatively short period of time, e.g. for an after-dinner speech. For whole-day events, consecutive interpreting is not the best choice; in these cases, simultaneous interpreting is the better alternative.
Whispering (or chuchotage)
The interpreter sits or stands behind the person requiring the translation and "whispers" it into the ears of the listener or (a maximum of two) listeners. The process is similar to simultaneous interpreting. However, the interpreter works under extremely difficult conditions as she does not have a headset, i.e. she hears not only the speaker but also all other sounds and voices in the room. Consequently, whispering is only suitable for short events. It is also highly recommended to use a special mobile sound transmission system. This helps both the interpreters and the listeners. The interpreter will be able to move about the room freely, thus ensuring she can hear the speaker at all times. And listeners can hear the interpretation much better since they are wearing headphones. Plus there is an obvious economic advantage: the number of listeners is no longer limited to two. Thanks to portable receivers, up to 20 people can listen to the interpreter.
Liaison interpreting
The interpreter translates what is being said by members of a small group speaking two different languages. She will usually translate several sentences at a time and works into and out of both languages. This method of interpreting is used for participants who do not speak the other person’s language. But it can also be extremely helpful for participants who can understand or even speak the foreign language but are unable to understand all the technical details (and these details can be important!), or who prefer to speak in their mother tongue. For this kind of interpreting, no technical equipment is required. In meetings of up to two hours, one interpreter will usually be sufficient. If a meeting lasts longer than two hours, two interpreters should take turns.

Get in touch - I will be happy to help you choose the interpreting method that is best suited to your needs.

Anne-Kristin Krämer
M.A. in Conference Interpreting
Active member AIIC and VKD
Graduate interpreter&translator

Kissinger Str. 10
12175 Berlin
Phone +49-030-47375998
Mobile +49-175-4048703