Consecutive Interpretation

Nathalie Pijollet providing consecutive interpreting in Paris

Consecutive interpretation

Consecutive interpretation is generally used for smaller, more intimate meetings and diplomatic visits. In this mode of interpretation, speakers deliver their speeches in complete passages or chunks before pausing for the interpretation.

The interpreter listens to the speaker and takes notes before delivering the interpretation in the target language during the pause. For consecutive interpretation the interpreter and speaker are seated next to one another, the only equipment required being microphones and a standard public address system if the meeting is being held in a large room or if there is a large audience.

Who can decipher an interpreter’s notes?

Consecutive interpreters jot down a unique, language-neutral combination of abbreviations and symbols which they use in conjunction with their memory to enable them to reconstruct the original speech in a different language two, five or ten minutes after it has been delivered.

Every interpreter has a unique note-taking system that he or she has developed through training and refined through practical assignments, which records ideas and facts and supports his or her memory. Hence, it is virtually impossible for an interpreter to decipher notes taken by a colleague or to reconstruct a complete and faithful message a few hours after the speech has been delivered.

Who can provide high-quality consecutive interpreting?

Conference interpreters are highly trained professionals, usually educated to at least Masters level, who have a broad general knowledge and a genuine command of the languages they interpret. The professionals recruited by Calliope are preferably members of AIIC (International Association of Conference Interpreters) and/or accredited by national and international organisations, such as the UN agencies and the European institutions. They are bound by absolute professional secrecy. They are selected based on their experience of the subject-matter of your meeting, and regard thorough preparation as part of the assignment, acquainting themselves with the relevant issues and terminology.

Calliope can:

  • help you choose the most appropriate mode of interpretation for your event
  • provide advice on the room layout and equipment needed for each type of interpretation
  • select the most qualified interpreters, trained in the best universities, with an excellent command of consecutive

Examples from our portfolio


Claudia Ricci interpreting in consecutive in front of a large crowd in Italy

Futura Festival, event with Zygmunt Bauman and George Ritzer, Italy

Consecutive is often used to service small business meetings, training courses, conferences with just one or two speeches in a foreign language or very high-level meetings. However, it may also be used to cater for very large gatherings, especially in open spaces, where it would be difficult to distribute and retrieve simultaneous interpretation receivers and earphones.

In the picture, the Calliope member for Italy, Claudia Ricci, is providing consecutive interpretation at a public meeting in a city square with sociologists Zygmunt Bauman and George Ritzer.


Irina Pipis consecutive interpreting during Mr Junker’s visit to Cyprus

Press Conference during Jean-Claude Juncker’s 2014 presidential campaign

In May 2014 Jean-Claude Juncker visited Cyprus as part of a “Juncker for President” campaign tour before the European Parliament elections. He held a joint press conference with the leader of the governing Democratic Rally party and participated in the party’s European elections congress, where he delivered a keynote speech. Irina Pipis, the Calliope member for Cyprus, was entrusted with the task of conveying his message using consecutive interpreting.


Franco-German parliamentary prize ceremony

On 20 November 2013, a delegation from the German Bundestag, led by its President, Mr Norbert Lammert, visited Paris to celebrate the award of the Franco-German parliamentary prize at the Assemblée Nationale. During the visit, Mr Lammert presented the German Order of Merit, the Bundesverdienstkreuz, to Christine Boulay-Deilhes, in recognition of her work to promote Franco-German friendship, at the Hôtel Beauharnais, the official residence of the German Ambassador to France. Nathalie Pijollet, the Calliope member for Germany, had the task of interpreting the speeches by Mr Lammert and Mme Boulay-Deilhes in consecutive. It was a very poignant ceremony in an exceptional setting, witnessed by the French and German guests who had come to pay tribute to Mme Boulay-Deilhes.

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