Using an Interpreter: the key to success at trade fairs and international conferences


Just imagine the scene: Your company has rented a space at an important international trade fair, sent you and a colleague there at great expense, set up a beautiful stand, prepared all the publicity material and samples that you could possibly need… and there you stand, at the last second, struggling with your schoolboy German, and realising that you have forgotten the one thing that could really have made a difference: a professional interpreter.

Or possibly the situation is not a trade fair, but an important business meeting between another company and yours. Their English is flawless, but your Chinese is not!  You’d love to be able to find out what they really think of your business proposal as they mutter to each other, but there’s no-one there to help you. Sound familiar?

Both of these possible scenarios have actually happened to people I know, who will not repeat those costly mistakes again. Now they leave nothing to chance and use professional interpreters in order to avoid awkward situations like these.

But I already speak English (or French, or German, or …)! What skills does an interpreter have that will help me?

There is a huge difference between having a working or even reasonably fluent knowledge of a second language, and being a professional interpreter, no matter how good your skills. An interpreter will be able to translate both to and from the other language on the spot, leaving you free to think about your message, whilst also lending a more professional image to your company’s presentation.

An interpreter may be simultaneous (translating as you speak, with only a few seconds delay), or consecutive (waiting for you to finish your sentence before translating), depending on the kind of service you require.  They will also have some knowledge of the subject and will have prepared any tricky details with you beforehand so that there are no delays in explaining your product or ideas.  You will be able to completely focus on what is most important to both of you: your business.

We’ve already got all our publicity translated – isn’t that enough?

You may have already prepared everything in advance in a dozen languages, but you can never quite anticipate what a customer is likely to ask. This is when an interpreter really comes into their own. Translation is written, prepared and polished in advance, but an interpreter will transfer ideas from one language to another orally, on the spot, giving you that flexibility that you really need at a trade fair.

So when should I use an Interpreter?

  • When you want immediate, fluent communication, not stumbling around searching for the right words;
  • When you are likely to be stressed;
  • When your area of expertise is technical or complex;
  • When you are likely to receive queries from potential customers;
  • When you wish to give a more pleasant image;
  • When cultural differences can be important;
  • When information may be sensitive or confidential;
  • When explaining legal terms or conditions;
  • When you want an objective, neutral third person who will not interject – unlike your relatives or friends!

In other words, any time you attend an international trade fair and wish to communicate professionally and fluently!

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