Does your interpreter contact you in person? Does she ask you the right questions? Does she ask any questions at all? Can she tell you on request who she works with? Will she provide you with a comprehensive quote within 48 hours? Do you get a feel for who you are dealing with? Do you feel you’re taken good care of? If you can answer all of these questions in the affirmative, then you’re in good hands.
We’re often told we’re (too) expensive. To work out whether that’s really the case, it helps to consider what goes into calculating an interpreting fee:
- Ongoing training in various areas
- Building and maintaining a broad network of qualified, professional colleagues
- Terminology (glossary production and maintenance)
- Taxes and insurance premia (including professional liability and financial loss insurance)
- Membership fees for professional associations
- Number-crunching for projects
- Producing quotes
- Issuing contracts
- Obtaining GDPR consent from all parties
- Selecting and liaising with teams
- Advising clients on all aspects relating to interpretation
- Liaising with equipment providers and negotiating reasonable rates, from which our clients benefit indirectly
- Job-specific preparation and research (rule of thumb: day 1 = one day of preparation; subsequent days = one half-day each)
- Travel time and overnight stays
- Time spent in the booth
- Debriefing session with team members and clients
Consultant Interpreters don’t just work in the booth; they also organise larger teams on behalf of their clients and also rent the required equipment where needed. The cost of this service adequately reflects the work that goes into providing it on the part of both the team and the Consultant Interpreter. In other words, the project has to be financially worthwhile for everyone involved. You, the client, only pay for the services that you actually need – unlike if you were to commission an agency. I make it very clear what you pay for. I am familiar with the interpreters in my network, only assign those who are suitable for the job (in terms of experience, specialisms, language combination and place of residence) and organise the right equipment.
Yes. Consultant Interpreters are well connected across all language combinations and are more than happy to respond to all your interpreting needs. They provide a personal service from the very first moment of contact right up to a debriefing meeting or phone call, once the event has come to a successful conclusion. Even if your event only requires a small team, your Consultant Interpreter won’t leave you high and dry even if they aren’t available on the day itself. Instead they’ll activate their network and remain at your disposal as your only point of contact, if desired.
The cognitive load during interpreting is exceptionally high, so interpreters can only maintain the same high level of quality for around 30 to 45 minutes. This is why they take turns every half hour or so and then mentally “switch off” to regenerate, although they will continue to listen in and assist their colleague with notes, for instance, in stressful communicative situations (speeches with lots of figures, complex presentations, or speeches read out at high speed). This is the case for both simultaneous as well as consecutive. This is why a professional service provider will never suggest just one interpreter for an assignment lasting any more than 30 or 45 minutes. A team of three interpreters may be assigned if the meeting is extraordinarily long or exhausting
Remote interpreting, sometimes referred to as RSI (remote simultaneous interpreting), implies that clients, speakers and the interpreting team are not in the same location. Settings like these have been very frequent during the Covid-19 pandemic and are expected to continue existing to an extent even once restrictions are lifted. A variety of RSI solutions is available; the choice will depend on the client’s exact needs. Make sure you reach out to your Consultant Interpreter well ahead of the event date so you can discuss your needs with them and make a choice together.
I have been in the profession for over two decades and am part of a strong professional network, thanks to my membership of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (aiic) and of VKD, the German national association of conference interpreters. I started to organise large multilingual teams in 2007 and today maintain a good working relationship with equipment providers in Germany and beyond. Besides working as a Consultant Interpreter, I work in the English and German booths and have gathered over a thousand days of experience so far (in all modes: simultaneous, chuchotage and consecutive) in a broad range of fields for clients – from the grassroots level right up to the Federal Government and the EU institutions (mainly the European Commission and European Patent Office). My CV and/or a list of reference projects and clients is available on request.