Video remote interpreting (VRI) is the practice of connecting humans who don’t speak the same language with each other through a language interpreter using online meeting protocols. The interpreter listens to one person and translates the words into the second person’s language.
While VRI has been around since the 1990s, it’s seen a huge boost in recent years, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Medical and legal services have historically been the primary engagers of VRI, but businesses of all types (finance, insurance, technical support, etc.) have increased their usage of these services. After all, video remote interpreting eliminates in-person expenses, such as travel, renting space, and oftentimes higher interpreter costs. It’s also a great fit since it doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done on short notice.
VRI is best for small groups (4 or fewer) or one-on-one situations since it involves a stop-and-go flow of information and given the oftentimes significant and sensitive nature of the conversation, such as during a medical appointment.
If you need video remote interpreting services, we offer five best practices to help you through the process.
1. Request an Interpreter
When you reach out to a language service company (LSC) to request an interpreter, we recommend including all the meeting details at that time. Details include the language(s), day, time (and time zone), virtual host’s email, length of meeting, type of project, industry, and any other information that you feel is relevant to the appointment. Also include any kind of prep material—the more information, the better.
Request interpretation services as far in advance as possible—the earlier, the better. This will help ensure that an interpreter will be available, especially when requesting in-demand or rarer languages.
Finally, if any part of the call will be confidential, all parties should be aware of that and agree on terms before the call.
2. Prepare for the Meeting
In preparation for the meeting, make sure that you send the meeting information directly to the interpreter beforehand so that person is ready to go. Also, if anything has changed since the initial request, inform your LSC and the interpreter.
3. Test the Technology
We can’t emphasize this one enough! We all know what it’s like to attempt to join a virtual meeting only to have a webcam not work or someone not be able to log in. Also, test your connection!
We recommend using a laptop or desktop with a webcam and headset for audio. We also recommend dialing in via landline or mobile for the best sound quality. If your meeting involves sign language interpretation, be sure that the screen size is adequate. Whatever equipment you decide to use, test it before the meeting.
Also, ask your LSC if they’ll do a test call to make sure everything is working before the actual call.
4. Get Ready for the Call
Once you verify all your equipment, get ready for the call:
- Log in to the meeting at least 10 minutes before the call is scheduled to begin.
- Make sure that the audio and video permissions have been enabled. Also, make sure the volume is working (and set at a good level), and the video camera is set where you want it to be.
- Have a way to contact all the involved parties in case something goes wrong.
5. Understand How the Interpretation Process Works
When an interpreter interprets during a remote video meeting, the interpreter needs time to interpret consecutively. This means that the interpreter will listen, pause to reframe the communication in the second language, and then speak. It’s a good practice to reiterate this at the beginning of the call, as well as establish clearly defined roles so everyone knows what to expect.
It’s important for each participant to speak in short sentences, use clear language, and pause frequently to allow time for the interpretation to occur. Consecutive interpreting takes time, and each participant needs time to process the information and then respond. Being mindful of this will help all involved parties.
Video Remote Interpretation is here to stay. Following the best practices outlined in this blog will help ensure successful meetings.
Need Reliable Video Remote Interpretation? Turn to Geneva Worldwide!
As a language service company specializing in interpretation services, we provide a team of 8,000 linguists in 180 languages who support VRI needs globally. We also have a special onsite studio where we oversee VRI sessions. To learn more about our video remote interpretation services, contact us today.