How remote should interpretation be?

 | Interpretation best practices

You are organizing a meeting, but it proves impossible to find a meeting room that is large enough to accommodate interpretation booths. The solution may be to move them to an adjacent meeting space. Remote? Not very! Even so, it’s important to follow certain guidelines to ensure that multilingual communication flows smoothly.

Remote Interpreting booths being used at a conference in Warsaw, Poland

Although Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI) technologies are developing rapidly, they are not yet capable of replicating the conditions laid down in ISO standards for in-situ interpreting. For the highest quality interpreting performance, it is therefore desirable to have your interpreters in the same room as your delegates. However, if push comes to shove, and space constraints mean that there is no room for your interpreters in the conference room, it is possible to move the interpretation booths to another room in the same building. Remote? Not very. Even so, it’s important to follow certain guidelines to ensure that your conference is a success.

Usually, interpreters work in fixed or mobile booths in the room where the conference is taking place. They must be able to hear the speakers perfectly and observe the non-verbal signals that characterize communication; to see the projection screens displaying presentations or other information; and be able to ensure, by directly observing the people listening, that the message they have translated has been successfully conveyed.

Replicating those conditions in a remote situation is complex. First and foremost, it is crucial that the audio and video link between the meeting room and the interpreters is achieved by means of an internal, physical cable. In addition, to preserve the quality of the interpretation service provided, Calliope-Interpreters makes the following recommendations:

General organization

  • Before the meeting, seek the advice of your Consultant Interpreter about the project’s feasibility, and involve him or her in the preparatory meetings with the conference organizers, logistics coordinators and technicians.

  • Choose a quiet location for the interpretation booths, preferably an adjacent room.

  • Inform the cameramen and sound technicians about the interpreters’ needs.

  • Ensure that, despite not being in the same room as the delegates, the interpreters receive the same information as them.

Technical arrangements

  • Ensure that technicians are specifically assigned to the interpretation, both in the meeting room and with the interpreters, to ensure that the microphones are being used properly, that the sound transmitted is of the necessary quality, and that the sound-image synchronization is perfect.

  • The audio link must comply with ISO 20109:2016, which provides for a faithful reproduction of frequencies between 125Hz and 15,000Hz across the entire speaker-interpreter-audience system so that the message can be comfortably understood and none of its content is lost.

  • To ensure that the interpreters have a clear view of the speakers, audience and projection screen, each booth should be equipped with two high-resolution, sufficiently large, colour monitors showing

    • on the first monitor, the presenter, and if appropriate, the chairman of the meeting and the rostrum, or the various panel members in the case of a roundtable discussion or question-and-answer session, as well as any speakers from the audience;
    • on the second monitor, the content being screened. If the content is being projected from a computer, a direct feed between the computer in the room and the interpreters’ monitors should be provided, as this will give a crisper image.

The monitors should be placed at eye level, outside and directly in front of the booths.


  • Ensure that the interpreters receive all the texts produced during the meeting as they become available, for example, proposals, resolutions, questions submitted in writing, and so on.

Clearly, the ideal scenario is to have your interpreters in the meeting room with your delegates. However, if space constraints require the interpretation booths to be removed, remote interpreting can be a practical solution, in particular when the interpreters remain in the same building as the delegates, and both sound and images are supplied by means of a physical cable. The above guidelines will ensure that your conference is a success, despite your interpreters being in a (slightly) remote location.

Calliope-Interpreters is a global network of Consultant Interpreters, who can provide advice and expertise to ensure that your next multilingual meeting is a success. Contact us to discuss your interpretation requirements.


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