What is Consecutive Interpreting?

Just Like translation, interpretation also holds great significance in the global world. It facilitates communication and helps bridge language barriers. The world we live in is very diverse and interconnected and interpretation enables individuals, companies, and consumers having different linguistic backgrounds to easily communicate, interact, and understand each other. This communication could be related to any business negotiations, conferences, international events, diplomatic meetings, or other situations. The exchange of concepts and ideas, collaboration, and communication become so much more effective through interpretation. When people speaking different languages have equal access to information, intercultural understanding increases and inclusivity is fostered. 

The selection of the interpretation services depends upon your working environment and events. Among various types, the most important form of interpretation is consecutive interpreting. It is the cheapest form because it is not done in real-time. Let’s have a look at what exactly the consecutive interpretation is!

Consecutive Interpretation

Consecutive Interpretation is done by the interpreter when the speaker finishes his/her speech or sentences. He takes notes of the information that is conveyed to the audience. The interpreter does this by sitting close to the speaker and he has a pen and notebook to jot down the information.

On the other hand, if the interpreter has a microphone, he uses it after the completion of the speech and speaks in his turn. To elaborate on this, consecutive interpreting begins just after the speaker stops speaking or he makes pauses in his speech. It’s a time taking task and includes:

  1. Listening Carefully
  2. Taking Notes systematically
  3. Reproducing it for communication

In the consecutive interpretation, the interpreter waits for the speaker to finish his speech so that he can translate what the speaker has said. The speaker makes pauses during the conversation so consecutive interpretation takes more time than simultaneous interpretation. In case of simultaneous interpreting, the interpreter sits inside the soundproof booth.

Moreover, he listens to what the speaker is saying with the help of the handset and provides interpretation instantly. Thus, the big difference between consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation is that in simultaneous interpretation, the interpretation is provided in real-time. Whereas, in consecutive interpretation, the interpretation is provided after a gap.

In the case of consecutive interpreting, the conversation is divided into different parts. The interpreter sits with the speaker. Moreover, he listens carefully to what the speaker is saying, and when the speaker stops the conversation, he starts taking notes.

All You Need to Know to Become a Consecutive Interpreter

Consecutive interpreting is not about jotting down the information. Despite this, it helps in recreating the message that the speakers conveyed in their speech. The main tasks of interpreters are:

  1. Active listening
  2. Analyzing what the speaker is saying
  3. Making useful notes
  4. Interpreting the speech to convey the message in the native language.

When the speaker finishes his speech, the interpreter considers the entire message or the parts of the speech to be interpreted. This all depends upon the target language and how the message is delivered. 

If the speech of the speaker is short then it is easy for the interpreter to translate. On the other hand, if the speech is too long then the interpreter has to make notes to convey the message accurately.

A speaker can make a speech for five or ten minutes before getting to a conclusion. Thus, a consecutive interpreter should have excellent memory besides being proficient in source and target languages.

The interpreter should also possess good note-taking skills. They can use a special note system in which they can use symbols, words, inflections, entitlement, and much more. Moreover, the consecutive interpreter is more about recreating the message, rather than memorizing the message.

Finally, the interpreter should know cultural intricacies so that information they interpret does not offend anyone. This includes everything from phrasing sentences and the use of idioms. Moreover, the correct use of the lexicon is important.

To get the right interpretation, a client should sit with the interpreter and share all his requirements. The interpreter should have in-depth information about the client’s company, product and services, and the theme of the event.

The client must provide the interpreter with the rough draft of the speech, industry-specific terminologies, and all other important information about interpretation requirements. It will help the interpreters to produce a seamless interpretation result.

Training and Certification for Consecutive Interpreters

To become a successful consecutive interpreter, you need to have the following certification and training:

  1. Academic interpreting qualifications.
  2. Specialist interpreter training courses.
  3. Virtual video library of the European commission
  4. Online resources for conference interpreting training ORCIT

ORCIT provides excellent techniques and skills to enhance the skills of interpreting. You can get all the online information without any cost. ORCIT material is specially designed for interpreters of the European Union but interpreters from all around the world can also use this information.

Interpreters can also get excellent information through a virtual video library. The people who want to pursue their career in interpretation can develop a solid foundation of interpretation through a virtual library.

The other special training and certifications are also available for interpreters such as court interpretation training for those that want to specialize in the interpretation of court hearings and legal proceedings. Furthermore, academic qualification is also required for interpreters that want to interpret academic records

Work Experience

No doubt, training, and certifications are important to develop interpretation skills. Moreover,  the interpreter can provide affluent interpretation results if they have prior interpretation experience in their field.

When to Go for Consecutive Interpreting

There are many events and scenarios in which you can go for consecutive interpretations. This will ensure a smooth transition of communication. Let’s have a look at them.

Press Interviews

If you are a part of a news channel and want to conduct interviews with people that don’t understand your language, here comes the need for consecutive interpretation. The consecutive interpretation will help you to proceed with the interview. The interview will take time because the speaker needs to give a gap so that the interpreter can convey an accurate message.

Personal Interviews

Apart from a press interview, if you are going to conduct a personal interview then you require consecutive interpretations to deal with linguistic barriers.

Business Meetings

In this era of globalization, everyone wants to expand their business outside the boundaries. In this case, consecutive interpretation is necessary to convey a seamless message to multilingual target markets. Business meetings will take a longer time. Therefore, the speaker needs to give a pause so that the interpreter can interpret the business information and help in finalizing the business deal.

Human Resource Meetings

Do you have a subsidiary in another country? Want to convey your message to a diverse workforce? You should not worry, here the consecutive interpretation will help you to deal with legal formalities in the foreign country. Thus, with seamless interpretation, coordination between the head office and subsidiary can be maintained.

The HR policies can be standardized so that everyone can be on the same page. The evaluations and promotion of the staff can get more benefits from consecutive interpretation.

Parents Teacher Meetings

Don’t worry if you can’t speak the language of your child’s teacher. The consecutive interpretation will help you in understanding your child’s progress in depth.

Medical Consultations

If you are going to a foreign country for your medical check-up and you don’t understand the doctor’s language, consecutive interpretation will help to understand the foreign treatment you are going for.

Court Hearings

If you are going through some legal cases in court then the consecutive interpretation will help you understand the court hearings.

Insurance Claim Meetings

If you are conducting an insurance claim meeting with an insurance company that doesn’t understand your language, the consecutive interpretation will help you in understanding insurance claims.

Business Tours

Consecutive interpretation will also help you if you are going on a foreign business trip. It will help you to understand foreign business meetings.

Professional Sports

In the Olympics where sportsmen don’t understand each other’s language, consecutive interpretation helps them in understanding the communication. Moreover, it helps them to participate with full enthusiasm.

Advantages of Consecutive Interpretation


The Consecutive interpretation offers numerous benefits to help improve your experience. Let’s take a look at how!

Reliable Translation

No matter how experienced the interpreter is, the simultaneous interpretation is done with a rush thus distorting the interpretation quality. The simultaneous translation doesn’t give you time to think. Therefore, one might not find suitable words. On the contrary, consecutive interpretation gives time for the translator to think and make notes before interpreting.

Therefore, they come up with appropriate words. Additionally, more time helps the interpreter to give attention to details. Also, it gives them ample time to observe body language and express emotions. In short, the consecutive interpretation helps to understand the subject matter in detail. Therefore, it enables the interpreters to produce a reliable translation.

Captivating the Audience

It is quite difficult to focus on one person’s conversation. In simultaneous interpreting, it becomes more difficult to listen to two people at once because they have diverse body languages, emotions, and voices. Contrary to this, in consecutive interpretation, the interpreter gets the time to differentiate between the original speech and the translation.

Therefore, it makes the audience listen attentively. Furthermore, it makes the listeners understand the subject matter well in spoken language and the translated language. The people who understand both languages can also guess what the speaker will say next.

No Special Equipment Required

For consecutive interpretation, you don’t need to buy any expensive equipment. This translation does not require technical audio and electronic devices. Moreover, special headphones and soundproof booths are not require for consecutive interpretation audiences. Thus, it is not expensive at all. 

Consecutive interpretation depends upon the interpreter’s interpersonal and linguistic skills. The spare time they get in interpretation enables them to make notes. Moreover, they highlight the content and regenerate it to make them sound native in a foreign language.

Consecutive Interpretation is not Demanding

Consecutive interpretation is not as demanding as compared to simultaneous interpreting. It is mainly used in small events including training and seminars that require interpretation in only one language. It is suitable for events that take time less than two hours.

Yet, if the meeting is dealing with technical and strenuous subject matter then you can go for two interpreters. This is what global companies are doing if they opt for consecutive interpreting.

Things to Consider for Consecutive Interpreting

If you need to use consecutive interpretation then it is very important to plan. Let’s have a look at things to consider before going for consecutive interpretation.

The Time Gap between the Speaker and Interpreter

The interpreter should know beforehand whether he has to cover a short interpretation or long. The time gap between the speaker and interpreter will determine whether the interpreter should use a notepad or not. Consequently, it will impact the delivery of the communication.

The Setup of the Event

The setup of the event will greatly influence how your consecutive interpreter will interpret the speech. For example, in a business meeting, the consecutive interpreter can sit and jot down the notes easily. On the contrary, in a small networking event where the speaker is roaming around, it becomes very difficult for consecutive interpreters to make notes.

Level of Noise

One of the most important things to consider in consecutive interpreting is background noise. The interpreter will not be able to listen to the speaker properly if there is so much noise. Therefore, there should be no noise so that the interpreter can listen to the speaker clearly and interpret the message in other languages easily.

Knowledge about the Terminology

Make sure that the interpreter knows the specific terminologies of your field. For instance, if you are conducting a medical meeting to tell the patient that he is suffering from choledocholithiasis, your interpreter should know about this term. The same is the case with legal and technical terminologies and terms.

Situations in which Consecutive Interpretation is not Required

Consecutive Interpretation is not suitable for live broadcasts and for large events in which people speak multilingual languages. Inquisitive to know why this is so? Let’s find it out. In the group of multilingual people, the audience needs to wait for the conversation (that is done in multiple languages) to get finish.

It makes the event more time-consuming, expensive, and inappropriate. Therefore, the consecutive interpretation is best suitable for small events that speak only one target language.

Wrapping Up

Consecutive interpretation will help you in enhancing your business and professionalism. It opens the channels of effective communication for a global audience, thus helping you to penetrate new markets. So, are you ready for consecutive interpreting?

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