• After inviting qualified physicians from a number of foreign countries to attend an investigators' meeting in Europe, a pharmaceutical company ponders the best way to get the event's attendees interested in participating in the upcoming clinical trials of one of its new wonder drugs.

  • A manufacturer of consumer products travels to Asia to deliver a speech to an audience consisting of prospective investors and partners. However, the audience members' understanding of the speaker's language may not be sufficient to provide them with a thorough understanding of the product's market potential. This could spell disaster.

The solution? Simultaneous interpreting. Utilizing the services of experienced interpreters establishes a company as an informed player, an entity that respects foreign cultures — while guaranteeing that a company's vital message is entirely understood by its target audience.

When given the choice, even seasoned conference attendees who speak English fluently will often choose to listen to a speech in their native language rather than in English. Why? Because listening to one's native language usually means automatic — and relatively effortless — comprehension. Furthermore, the listener at the same time also experiences a sense of comfort and security precisely because of the familiarity afforded by listening to one's mother tongue.

Translator Tips

Here are some suggestions to help ensure that interpreters do the best possible job:

  • Background Materials

    Provide the interpreters, as far in advance as possible, with any and all reference materials that could assist them in understanding the specifics of the subject matter as well as any specialized terminology. This includes copies of written texts or notes for a speech. It is especially crucial that you allow adequate time for review of materials on topics of a technical nature.

  • Organize a Briefing

    Set up a session with the interpreters, and try to include the scheduled speakers in this process. Doing so is extremely useful for clarifying specific points or concepts in a speech.

  • AV Support

    When showing a film, slides, or transparencies, make sure that the interpreters receive the script or a copy of the transparencies. Interpreter booths are often located far from a venue's projection screen, so it's helpful if the interpreters have copies of the projected text in front of them.

  • Q&A

    If speakers wish to reply to questions from the floor, provide them with receiver headsets so that they can follow the questions as they are interpreted.

  • Line of Sight

    Try to place the interpreters' booths so that they have a direct line of sight to the speaker. Body language is extremely important to the interpretation process — something conference organizers usually don't consider. The interpreters will love you for it.

  • Microphone Manners

    Make sure that speakers do not stand too close to the microphone. This makes one's words garbled and difficult to comprehend, needlessly tiring the interpreters.

  • Mikes That Move

    Have a mobile microphone handy in case the speaker wishes to move away from his or her seat for any reason. Without a microphone, the interpreters cannot hear what is being said, no matter how loudly someone speaks.

Peter J. Wright is the president of The Wright Translation, in New York City, which specializes in providing interpreter services for pharmaceutical and medical meetings. For more information, you can contact Wright at (212) 481-6820, send e-mail to him at wright@), or visit