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How to make Multilingual Meetings work for you

The Directorate General for Interpretation provides interpreters for between 10000 and 11000 meetings every year. It is the interpreters' job to make communication possible between delegates who do not share a language. Our experience has shown that also the communication skills of the participants are of paramount importance when working in a multilingual meeting. The greater the number of languages in use and the more complex the interpretation arrangements, the more this is true.

When you are chairing or participating in a multilingual meeting it is useful to think about how your message gets across through interpretation. The interpreters are there to help the meeting proceed as if everyone was speaking the same language, and we provide the following tips in order to help you get the best possible quality of communication in your meeting.

The suggestions below refer specifically to the working conditions upheld by the European Commission but are generally valid for all meetings with interpretation. You are welcome to copy or use the information in these pages and to create links to it from your agendas or websites.

Tips for speakers
  • Speak naturally, at a reasonable pace

  • Speak your mother tongue if possible

  • Speaking is better than reading

  • Remove your head phone and speak into the microphone

  • Quote document references

  • Make sure the interpreters have the text if you read a speech

  • Talk with your interpreters and give them feedback

  • Put figures, names and acronyms clearly

Giving the presentation

  • Always look at the audience and do not walk around: you are on camera; excessive movement dramatically decreases the quality of the image (more pixels to transmit on the Internet, possible loss of frames);

  • Show each slide for at least a couple of minutes: local and virtual participants should have time to read the text and listen at the same time (unless you wish just to show a photo);

  • Even if simultaneous interpretation is provided, your slides will not be translated, so please choose an appropriate language for them.

  • Avoid wearing white or light colours: these cause the video camera to under-expose the image.

  • Wear solid colours: patterned or striped clothing can cause undesirable visual effects.



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