When to bring an interpreter to a business meeting

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There will be numerous things on your mind if you are holding a business meeting – from preparing documents to ensuring that all key stakeholders will be there to attend. In some cases, you’ll also have to add business interpreting to that list. 

Whether you are meeting a vendor, new business associate, journalist, or a representative of a governmental organization, business interpretation will make it easy for the participants to understand each other’s point of view when there are language barriers. 

In this article, we’ll break down cases where you’ll necessarily have to bring a business interpreter to a meeting and provide tips on how to best prepare for this type of meeting. 

Negotiating with a foreign client or customer

If there’s one thing that we know about business negotiations with those from a different language proficiency, it’s that there’s no room for error. That’s because it will be difficult to go back and seek revisions once you have agreed to something. This is especially true if you are negotiating prices or volumes with a foreign client or customer. 

That’s why it’s important to seek the services of a business interpretation professional even if you believe you understand the other language. Since you would be discussing important issues concerning deadlines, price, distribution, or marketing, all participants would need to understand the details with no ambiguity. 

Suppose you are discussing the purchase or sale of assets that will have legal ramifications. With the help of a business interpreter, you will be able to understand the other side’s points and then effectively state your case. 

Presenting to foreign investors

In the highly globalized world that we live in, every business needs to look beyond its national borders when seeking investment. Let’s say a Japanese financial institution wants to invest in a US tech company. If you too are making a business presentation to potential foreign investors, it’s better to bring a business interpreter to the meeting. 

Your business presentation will not only reveal the facts of your business and its potential but also show your attention to detail and ability to communicate. Even if you are a highly skilled public speaker, your potential investors may not understand the content without foreign language proficiency. 

A professional business interpreter will work with you to ensure that your presentation is comprehensible to others. They will not just translate but capture the nuances and convey them in relatable terms to the foreign delegation. 

Sharing knowledge with foreign entities

There might be occasions when you have to share crucial information with foreign entities. These could be your business associates, clients, vendors, or even employees. Since you won’t have the time to master the language, it would be best to bring in a business interpreter. 

You could be sharing mission-critical information regarding your product or manufacturing methods. You could be introducing new technology to an outside wing of your company. Or you could be informing them of the new company policies. 

In all these instances, attention to detail is crucial. A business interpreter will ensure that everyone understands what you are talking about. Importantly, it will enable them to ask questions and seek clarifications. 

Talking to foreign journalists

Are you launching your product or service in a new country? Are you setting up a plant or getting into a tie-up with a local firm? Or are you hoping to get positive media coverage of your company before you compete for a government project in a foreign country? If so, you will have to engage with foreign journalists and present your case. 

When meeting a journalist, it would be tempting to assume that they would be proficient in English. But the truth is that they may not be, which would create severe language barriers if you don’t have business interpretation. 

A business interpreter would convey your ideas in a professional and comprehensible manner without missing any of the details. They would also enable you to have a meaningful one-on-one conversation with the media personality. 


When to bring an interpreter to a business meeting

How to best prepare for a business meeting with an interpreter

Business interpretation isn’t something you should think of at the last moment. For it to be effective, you need to work with the business interpreter to help them prepare for the meeting. Here are some best practices to keep in mind if you plan to use an interpreter for a business meeting. 

Meet your interpreter beforehand. This will help you get to know the interpreter and their pace and style of communication. It will also help them avoid any miscommunication and get valuable background information on the participants. 

Discuss the details. Share all important information regarding the meeting with the interpreter. Go over the agenda and the flow of the meeting. Let them know how long you should pause between sentences and where they would like to be seated. 

Share the content of the meeting. Discuss the key points of the meeting, discussion, or presentation. If you can, share a copy of your speech. This will help them point out any potential issues that may come up in translation. 

Be succinct. Since the goal is to inform and persuade, it would help you to stick to the main points. Work with your interpreter to make sure that the key points of your speech or content are highlighted and don’t get lost in unnecessary details. 


Tips on how to prepare for a business meeting with an interpreter

In short

The primary purpose of a meeting is to exchange ideas that would help all participants to move forward. This is why it’s crucial to bring a business interpreter when meeting foreign individuals or organizations.

Irrespective of the topic or individuals involved, they will ensure that everyone understands each other and is on the same page after the meeting. 


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Published on

Jan 10, 2022

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