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Think about interpretation when planning your meeting

You have decided to hold a meeting with interpretation. Extensive experience and recent communication research have shown the following points to be important in preparing for such a meeting. Please check these points before you do anything else :

Communication issues

From your last experience of this meeting did you request more languages to speak and to listen to than you needed? Would some others have been more useful instead?

  • Please adjust your language request to the real needs of the meeting.
  • Please tell participants in the invitation which languages they can speak/listen to (after confirmation by DG Interpretation). Encourage them to speak freely, if possible in their mother tongue, and, when time is limited, to be brief rather than speak faster.
  • Brief them as follows:

- Your message may not come across fully when you just read out a text or speaking note. Even someone listening to the original language may find it difficult to take in the message in every detail.

- If you have a lengthy statement, in order to save time, it may be more appropriate to submit the full text to the Secretariat, for the record, and just give a brief summary orally.

  • Check if the title of the meeting is clear enough for the interpreters to prepare themselves correctly or if a subtitle would be helpful.
  • Please annotate agenda items clearly (information, discussion, vote…).
  • If possible, try to indicate the timing on the draft agenda.
  • Organise a short briefing with the interpreters – A well-briefed interpreter is a more involved interpreter.


  • Check that the documents are ready well in advance/in enough languages for the meeting to be successful.
  • Make sure you provide necessary explanations (acronyms, technical terms…).
  • Check if documents are clearly numbered/marked (agenda point, legal status, official code, originating institution or country…).
  • The documents/agenda are usually provided in the interpreters' booths, but if any new documents are presented in the course of the meeting, please ensure that interpreters have received a copy before you discuss them.
  • Have some paper copies at the meeting, even if you already sent the documents to DG Interpretation.

Visual aids/equipment and booths

  • For power-point presentations or similar see tips on power point presentations and webcasting.
  • Make sure you have requested suitable room/equipment (microphones, screens visible from all booths, and overhead projector).
  • Consider using visual aids for figures, flow-charts etc. for your meeting.
  • Make sure interpreters have a proper view of the screen and a paper copy of the slides.
  • Make sure your room is equipped with booths; if not, you will need mobile booths that fulfil the necessary technical specifications.

Before the meeting

  • Please check that DG interpretation has been informed of any last minute changes of starting time.
  • Ensure the chair can explain in a few words during the meeting what is at stake on each agenda item. (This will put interpreters and participants in the picture).
  • See the DG interpretation checklist for the Chair for practical tips
  • Try to give a copy of an annotated agenda to the interpreters – it can contain aim of each agenda point, anticipating questions and preparing answers, etc.