presentation skills for professional interpreters

Why Presentation Skills Are Important for Professional Interpreters

Collaboration with Day Translations. Professional interpreters can use continuous development to be able to perform at their best. Mastering presentation skills can be a great asset for them.

Presentation Skills for Interpreters

Public speaking is an extremely valuable skill in many areas of business. It helps to capture the full attention of an audience through the careful pacing of a speech, interspersing pauses and variations of intonation to build interest. A good public speaker can convince, change opinions, motivate. A seasoned speaker comes across as authoritative and will deliver the key messages in a presentation in a way that people will understand to persuade them to take action such as buying a product or considering a new idea.

A professional interpreter who works alongside a speaker can fine-tune the way they communicate, tailoring their delivery to match at least some of the pacing and emphasis from the speech in the original language.


Public speakers use several techniques to retain people’s attention, such as modulating the voice at different sound levels, pitching it at a lower register than usual to command authority. Even with a microphone it’s good to project your voice, speaking slightly louder than normal and at a slightly slower pace so that people can absorb the information.

To put it simply: a monotone delivery may distract the audience but if the original message from the speaker in the source language sounds energetic, when the interpreter translates the speech matching at least some of the original rhythm the result will get more engagement.

An area where interpreters can deploy presentation skills effectively is in consecutive interpretation, with the speaker pausing after short sections of the speech to give the interpreter enough time to translate. The interpreter can select from a repertoire of non-verbal elements such as gestures when appropriate to emphasise some points in line with the original presentation.

Simultaneous interpretation, where the translation happens in real time, is too fast and pressurised to include the luxury of style choices in the delivery, however if possible it’s better to avoid being monotone.

To perfect the right pacing it is always advisable to discuss with the speaker both the content of the presentation and where to give more emphasis to a particular message. If time allows, rehearsing the whole presentation in advance is the best way to identify any areas that need clarification and any expression that may not have a direct translation in the target language.

An interpreter who has great presentation skills gains more credibility and can build a better connection with the audience. It’s about having a mindset to focus entirely on the content and the delivery and not allowing nerves to get in the way.

It’s About Confidence

Learning public speaking skills allows interpreters to build their confidence when they are in front of an audience.

Interpreters can gain excellent insights from watching several successful public speakers and analysing how their deliver their speeches. Training courses teach how to address an audience with confidence, including how to prepare for a project and how to perform in front of people. It then takes practice to apply this in the work environment. Harvard Division of Continuous Education has some tips for beginners who are approaching public speaking as part of their continuous development.

Interpreters already possess incredible skills: they can process and retain a large volume of information and translate it while being aware of the different cultural background of the audience.

They can work in highly pressurised environments and having the right presentation skills adds to their value. They are the voice of the speaker while also being the connection to the listeners.

By honing their own public speaking skills interpreters can better represent what the speaker is saying giving it the right level of impact.