First aid for language barriers: interpreters

Are you having a meeting with a foreign client? Organising a conference or press conference with international speakers? Does the language barrier make you break out in a cold sweat? Don't worry, our interpreters have got you covered!


The kind of interpreter you need depends on the type of event. It’s best to take a look at the list below before contacting us. We’ve explained how it all works! 

  • Language combination/retour interpreting? 
  • Date and location + programme event? 
  • Consecutive, simultaneous, liaison: what type of interpreter do you need for your event? 
  • Do you need interpreting equipment? For how many people? 
  • Subject of the meeting or conference? 
  • Any speeches, keynotes or other study material? 

Language combination/retour interpreting
Pretty much everyone knows what is meant by a language combination, but the concept of retour often gets blank looks. With retour interpreting, the interpreter will interpret in both directions: into his/her native language and back into the other language (hence ‘retour’, which is French for ‘return’). This is very difficult and not all interpreters offer this service. 

Date, location and programme 
We obviously need to know the date and location of the event for planning purposes. When do you need the interpreter, and where? We use the programme to decide how much time to allocate (half a day, a full day, two days, etc.). 

What type of interpreter do I need?
Consecutive interpreters are mainly used for board meetings and similar events. They will briefly summarise the speaker's message and translate it at predetermined times. 

Liaison interpreters are often seen at meetings, next to someone in the audience or at the negotiating table. The interpreter whispers the translation into the client’s ear, as it were. This type of interpreting only works for one person at a time, or a maximum of two. 

Simultaneous interpreting means that the speaker and interpreter speak at the same time. Please note that two simultaneous interpreters are required, as the process is so demanding. The interpreters alternate every 15 minutes to catch their breath and give their brains a rest. You won’t catch them napping, though! The interpreter who is taking a break will continue to follow the speaker and take notes. Some interpreters also help each other by sharing their notes. An interpreting booth, transmitter and receivers are always used for simultaneous interpreting. 

Interpreting equipment
For simultaneous interpreting, you need an interpreting booth and headsets. Give us a brief overview of your event and the number of speakers so we can estimate what equipment you need and how much of it. 

Every interpreter has their own areas of expertise. One might be a genuine sports expert, another more of a tech geek. We will select the right interpreter or interpreters based on the subject of the meeting or event. 

Background information
The more reference material available, the better the interpreters can prepare for the task ahead. Interpreters often have to translate highly specialised subjects. It will be a great help if they can study the terminology in advance. Do you already have specific texts, speeches or white papers by the speakers? If so, be sure to send them along with your request! 

Send your input to us at We will take a good look at everything and make sure your message is interpreted professionally.

Would you like a quotation?

Experience for yourself what a difference Blue Lines can make when you request a translation. We look forward to exceeding your expectations!

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