The way to Present to an Audience Using Simultaneous Translation

Brief them

The translators will come in pairs, as it’s an extremely tiring job, and they’ll switch over after twenty minutes each. In Japan, I met with the two girls the night time before and talked about my subject. I ran through some technical terms that wouldn’t normally translate, and am gave them a generic picture of the presentation. I answered their own questions, they attuned to my emphasize, and I calibrated theirs.

Don’t think for a moment that your talk will translate literally. It won’t, and they’ll need several background first.

Give them slides plus handouts/notes

My two translators in China were ferocious consumers of the written materials. They wanted slip copies, the handouts used and copies of my books. In English too. During their 20 minute breaks, they read and broken down the written word to help them in their translation. They preferred difficult copies so do ensure you have these available.

Increase the time

It will take you longer to deliver the presentation plus I’ll explain why in a time. Start with the time it normally takes plus multiply by 1 . 5. So if it normally delivers in sixty minutes, assume it’ll take you 90 minutes. Plan around this idea.

I was delivering day long sessions to around 25 people in the space so I had to cut topics right down to size.

Shorter sentences and more breaks

The mistake many speakers make is to speak slower; ironically this doesn’t help and is just plainly difficult. Instead speak in shorter sentences, incorporate a full stop (period to my American cousins) by physically pausing lengthier. Get used to this staccato approach as well as your translators and your audience will reside you to bits.

Graphic based 35mm slides – 65% visuals

I’ve noticed three sources recently that suggest that 65% of adults are visual thinkers and prefer pictures and images to understand meanings. We’ve often known this. My advice is to put a lot more pictures, movies and images on your slides and animate them more. Pictures cross language barriers.

Forget the flipchart, welcome the whiteboard

Continuing the theme of visuals, I found building pictures and infographics on a large whiteboard very effective to get across complex messages. The physical building and creation of an infographic helped the audience to understand the particular message more clearly. But make sure your translators can see the image clearly because they use this to help with their translation.

Flipcharts are too small for images for large groups.


Some loudspeakers feel involvement is nigh on impossible when being simultaneously translated. I disagree because I was providing day long sessions to groups up to 25 people and without interaction and involvement, I would’ve bombed.

I’ll explain the kit needed in a moment that you need.

The involvement is team based activities that people often call syndicate exercises. Select random teams and set them jobs to complete. Small team discussions function really well and they can communicate within their own language. Choose your comments mechanism well and let groups come back to you with their findings or even conclusions. Let them populate a flipchart sheet with writing or images to help their presentation and let them present back in their own language.

I had formed a great time with my mandarin close friends in China who just adored spending 20 minutes in little group activities and reporting back in their mother tongue. I had them move around the room, present back whilst standing, pinning their charts to the wall space for a peripheral image set.

Get the kit right

I’m tooled as much as go interactive. I have a lavaliere or lapel mike pinned to my tee shirt so whatever I say in English can be translated immediately towards the group who all wear earphones. On my left ear I use an earphone which is wirelessly linked to the translator’s booth so anything my group say in Japanese or Russian, my translators will give myself in English.

This allows me to obtain interactive and to hear them nourishing back in their own language and respond in mine. It does take a little longer, naturally, but is very effective.

Consuming questions

I tried the odd group discussion but it was clunky and didn’t work. Instead We ran regular Q&A sessions. We made sure that each table had a cellular or cabled microphone so the group could talk to me in their own language. A ratio of 4 people to 1 microphone is desired.

Then you do a normal Q&A session. When receiving their answers, there’s always a delay as the translator means, so to prevent the embarrassing silence I would hold my hand to the earphones while i was listening to indicate to the group that I was still listening. This particular allowed for a 3 to 4 second amount of silence.

Asking questions

This worked well. Rather than setting a timed group activity, ask a question and let the group respond. Point them to their particular microphones on the tables; they’ll need to be reminded. My friends in Tokyo were so keen to answer; they will forgot the microphones so needed to be reminded.

Other than these tips, be prepared to do it again things occasionally, keep an eye on the translators in the booth in case they don’t realize something.
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And finally if you tell a joke, don’t expect the audience in order to laugh immediately on the punchline, be prepared for them to laugh 4 seconds afterwards. That’s a surreal experience. It’s most likely best not to tell jokes as these don’t always translate, culture and so forth I told funny stories; these people went down well because everyone can relate to these.

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