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What are the differences between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting? HI-COM

Are you organising a conference and would like an interpreter to translate a speech? How do you choose between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting?

Communication and interpreting at events are essential. For example, if your audience does not speak the same language as the speaker or if the conference is broadcasted live, you must have an interpreter present, whether simultaneous or consecutive. It is important that everyone present at the event fully understands what is being said as it will bring the audience together and help people to interact.

At HI-COM we fully understand the importance of a quality interpreter, which is why we first make sure that the type of interpreting will suit the needs of the business/event.

What is interpreting?

Interpreting is translating speech from one language to another at events such as conferences, conventions, or official speeches. An interpreter plays a very important role in the general understanding of what is being said as he/ she is the one delivering information to an audience.

Are you organising an event and need an interpreter but are unsure whether to choose simultaneous or consecutive interpreting?

HI-COM is here to highlight the differences to better help you make your choice!

1) What is simultaneous interpreting?

Simultaneous interpreting is often chosen for conferences or long speeches, as a lot of information is usually shared which allows for a much deeper understanding, especially as the translation is done in real time.

Simultaneous interpreting

2) What is consecutive interpreting?

Consecutive interpreting is generally used at events where conversation is key, e.g. during negotiations, business meetings, or other events. The speaker leaves a pause so that the interpreter can translate from one language to another for the person(s) and vice versa.

consecutive interpretation


1) Continuous and deferred

Simultaneous interpreting: Simultaneous interpreting means that the speech delivered in the target language will be much more limited due to the fact that the translation is continuous.  Another advantage is that this type of translation runs in real time, even when the programme of your conference/event is busy.

Consecutive interpreting: Consecutive interpreting, however, gives the interpreter much more time to translate. He or she is able to detach themselves from the original speech which helps to avoid any literal translations or miscommunication. Nonetheless, this remains a very intense exercise as the original speech can last up to 15 minutes.

2) Equipment

Simultaneous interpreting: This type of interpreting requires a certain amount of equipment in order for it to run smoothly. It requires the use of an interpreting booth, a translation case, and headphones. The interpreting booth is soundproof and separated from the other interpreters. The interpreter then translates into a microphone (in real time) that broadcasts to the wireless headsets worn by the audience.

Consecutive interpreting: For Consecutive interpreting the interpreter does not need any translation equipment. Typically the interpreter stands close to the speaker(s) and does not use any special audio-video equipment. The only piece of equipment often used is a notebook.

conference interpreting

3) Qualifications

At HI-COM, we only work with native speaking interpreters who have a relevant degree and more than 5 years’ experience in the desired industry. However, the qualifications required for both consecutive and simultaneous interpreting will vary.

For example, Simultaneous interpreters require extensive training in order to successfully hear and translate into another language instantly. The interpreter must therefore be fluent in both languages as well as fast and concise in order to convey the message accurately and in good time.

4) How it works

Simultaneous interpreting: Prior to an event, the simultaneous interpreter will receive information about the event in order to understand the context and have any necessary information to provide a consistent and accurate interpreting. During the event, the interpreter will sit in his/her booth and translate to the target audience in real time.

Consecutive interpreting: Unlike simultaneous interpreting, the consecutive interpreter does not receive information beforehand. During the event, the speaker will talk first and then give the interpreter time to translate what has been said. This is a much more complex task, which requires thorough note-taking and a very good memory.

5) Communication

Simultaneous interpreting: An advantage of using simultaneous interpreting is that there is fluent and continuous communication throughout a presentation or event.

Consecutive interpreting: A disadvantage of consecutive interpreting is that the interpreting flows a lot less than simultaneous interpreting. However, an advantage of this type of interpreting is that the interpreter’s speech will be much more controlled and carefully thought through than simultaneous interpreting. Consecutive interpreting avoids repetitions, misunderstandings, and any ambiguities that could cause problems for the listeners’ understanding.

To ensure high-quality translations, call HI-COM for the best interpreters in your field!

HI-COM has extensive experience in the interpreting sector and has a team of qualified interpreters readily available

We have a network of collaborators throughout Europe and Asia to meet your every requirement regarding interpreting, translation, and content writing.

HI-COM requires its interpreters to have a minimum of 5 years’ experience in specific industries such as legal, automotive, fashion, e-commerce, and many more. Contact us today for your free initial quote!!

Marie CASTANOWhat are the differences between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting? HI-COM

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