What is consecutive interpreting?

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What is consecutive interpreting?

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What is consecutive interpreting?


Consecutive interpreting is the common style of interpreting for one-on-one meetings between two parties. It is usually used in a more private setting than simultaneous interpreting and requires the speaker to speak anywhere from one to four sentences at a time, then pause, while the interpreter converts that into the native language for the other party in the conversation.

Consecutive interpreting is slower paced than simultaneous interpreting which flows non-stop in real time, so plan for the meeting duration accordingly: your meeting time increase anywhere from 1.5 to double the original time, especially if Q&A sessions are planned.

Do I need equipment?

Usually equipment is not required if you are conducting a one-on-one, face to face style meeting. However, if you plan for consecutive interpreter to translate for a speaker on stage who is addressing a wide audience, equipment is highly recommended – at least a microphone for interpreter. The other option is to provide a transmitter for the interpreter and receivers for those in the audience who need to listen to the translation.

A consecutive interpreter normally stands somewhere close to the speaker to be able to hear them distinctly, and jots down quick notes to capture the essence of a block of speech from the speaker. Then the interpreter converts that into the target language and speaks the translation back. It is important to prepare the speaker for the necessity to speak in “chunks” and take sufficient breaks so that the interpreter has a chance to catch up.

Do I need two interpreters for the assignment?

While having two or more interpreters for the simultaneous interpreting event is practically always mandatory, a single interpreter can usually handle the entire meeting, if it runs for a couple of hours or less. Extra long and overtime meetings would still require several interpreters so that they can switch and take breaks. Interpreting is a mentally exhausting task, and combined with requirement to speak for the entire duration of the session can have an impact on quality of translation.


Contact us today if you have any questions, and our consecutive interpreting specialists will assist you in preparing your event.