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Consecutive Interpreting: What you need to know

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Do you run an international company? Do you meet many people from different language backgrounds in your professional environment? If you do, then you will need the services of an interpreter at some point. Consecutive interpreting can be used in many different situations, from business meetings to court hearings. Let’s take a look at consecutive interpretation, and how it facilitates communication.

Contact us today or use our contact form to learn more about our interpreting services. We are happy to discuss how we can help you communicate effectively with your audience in a foreign language.


In consecutive interpreting, the interpreter speaks just after the speaker has finished his monologue. This usually happens after every few sentences. Sometimes the pauses are less frequent, meaning the interpreter has to listen for a long time before translating.

This type of interpreting is often used where accuracy is required, for example in court hearings or business meetings. To be effective, interpreters must have an excellent memory and take structured notes fast.

Consecutive interpretation can be divided into three steps:

1. The interpreters listen to the speaker and take notes.

2. The interpreters use their language skills to mentally paraphrase what was said, using their own words.

3. They then translate the speech into the target language.

A business meeting, training session, company meeting, or court hearing are just some of the situations where consecutive interpretation is frequently used. If you need language help during one of these kinds of events, then you should hire a highly professional interpreter with experience in consecutive interpreting.


Consecutive interpreting, unlike simultaneous interpretation, gives the interpreter time to process the words. They have time to think about the correct way of translating them. Consecutive interpreting leads to a good understanding of the original message, as the translator processes all the information. The participants can also ask follow-up questions to clarify any doubts they may have.


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    However, consecutive interpreting also has a couple of disadvantages. Due to its nature, it disrupts the flow of the conversation. Sometimes, it makes it more difficult for the listeners to follow the speaker. Consecutive interpreting requires the translator to note everything that was said, which means they also need to rely on their long-term memory.

    Before choosing between consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation, contact us about our language services. We can advise you on the best method for your event and find an interpreter who matches its profile.


    Consecutive interpreters must be fluent in both their native language and the target language, understand any cultural differences, and must have a solid foundation in interpreting methods. They need to be good listeners and not have any language barriers. Other useful skills are phrasing sentences in the easiest way, switching quickly from one language to another, and performing well under time and social pressure.

    Consecutive interpreting works well in many situations, including:

    • public speeches,
    • lectures,
    • personal interviews,
    • press interviews,
    • parent-teacher conferences,
    • professional sports events,
    • press conferences,
    • business presentations,
    • short events (e.g., a doctor’s visit).
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    consecutive interpreting Haftnotizen Notizblock skrivanek gmbh
    consecutive interpreting ein Mann mit Kopfhörern macht Notizen skrivanek gmbh


    Sworn consecutive interpreting is performed during official proceedings when a high degree of accuracy is required. This includes court interpretation, testimony hearings or medical consultations. For this the interpreters might have court interpretation training or medical experience.

    Our interpreters are always ready for the task they are assigned to, so you do not have to worry about checking their credentials.


    Online consecutive interpreting services are becoming more popular due to the increasing number of global collaborations. They involve an interpreter listening to a speaker in one language and then translating the message into another language once the speaker pauses, all conducted through online platforms.

    Unlike traditional face-to-face consecutive interpreting, the online service enables real-time communication between people in different geographic locations. It is an ideal solution for international webinars, virtual conferences, and remote business meetings.

    One alternative is interpreting over the phone. It is quick and can be used in emergencies, brief consultations or when on the move.


    While consecutive interpreting requires the speaker to have breaks in speaking to allow the interpreter time to translate it, simultaneous translation refers to the real-time processing of spoken content from one language to another. This is usually done by an interpreter in a soundproof booth, using both headphones and microphones. The listeners receive the interpreted content through their earphones.

    This mode of oral translation is common during multilingual conferences attended by people from all over the globe. The need for instant translation without interrupting the flow of the speaker can be seen during European Union or United Nations meetings, when time is of the essence.

    In contrast, a consecutive interpretation is more time-consuming and therefore used in smaller meetings where only two languages are used. The interpreter may sit close to the speaker or even stand with the audience.

    Simultaneous interpreters need to think and speak almost at the same time. It is required for them to have a high level of concentration and multitasking skills. This is why there are frequently two interpreters (or more) working in one language pair during an event.

    Consecutive interpreters typically work alone with one group of listeners. They rely on their memory and take notes to remember long passages. What can be difficult is when they need to deal with background noise, as they work without special equipment, such as headphones or soundproof booths.

    When deciding whether to use consecutive interpreting, first you need to consider your specific needs and objectives. As this might be difficult if you lack experience in this field, we can advise you on the best option. Just share with us details over the phone or through our contact form.


    A good consecutive interpreter practises the skill of taking notes until perfection. To faithfully reproduce the meaning of a speech and all the relevant details, they must be able to capture the main points while still following the overall flow of the discussion.

    To ensure accuracy and time efficiency, consecutive interpreters use a number of tools, such as notepads, pens, highlighters, and small recording devices. In some cases, a translator may also use a laptop or tablet to access reference materials.


    There are a number of different note-taking techniques that interpreters can use. One of the most common is the Cornell method, where the interpreter listens to the speaker’s words and notes down the most important information in a margin of the paper.

    Once the speaker pauses, the interpreter uses these useful notes to produce a complete speech in the target language. Although mastering this skill requires a lot of practice in the beginning, learning it helps them with their tasks. As part of learning these skills, they use the resources available in a virtual video library.


    Selecting the right consecutive interpreter is the key to successful communication.

    1. Ensure that they possess relevant expertise in your industry.

    2. Verify their educational background, certifications, and membership in reputable associations.

    3. Check if they have a proven track record on similar topics.

    4. Consider asking for testimonials from previous clients.

    5. Make sure they are available on the given dates.

    6. Conduct a brief preliminary session to double-check their proficiency, responsiveness, and interpersonal skills.

    Does all this sound like a difficult task? There is no need to worry, as we can do it all for you. Contact us, so we can assign the best professional for your needs.




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