The Linguist

The Linguist 59,3 - June/July 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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16 The Linguist Vol/59 No/3 2020 COMMUNICATIONS & MARKETING How should interpreters talk to clients about cancellation policies and other protections? Jaquelina Guardamagna offers her advice A sking questions before accepting an interpreting assignment is an essential aspect of the communication process between interpreters and clients. The right questions at an initial stage of negotiation should elicit useful information for preparation purposes, and prevent surprises or misunderstandings during the job. Receiving information about interpreting requirements will help you decide whether your skills, knowledge and expertise match your clients' expectations. It will also allow you to have a clearer vision of the context of the work and the aims of the people involved. So how can you question your clients without bombarding them? An email from a potential client asking about your availability and rates is likely to include details about the time and place of the assignment, and possibly about the subject matter of the meeting. This will give you a general idea of the most suitable type of interpreting solution you could offer. However, in addition to time, duration, topic and location, some additional information would be useful to gauge the client's expectations, boost your confidence and maximise your performance. If you explain the reasons behind your questions, your clients will feel more willing to provide accurate answers. First and foremost, it is necessary to ask about the topic of the assignment, the participants and the type of meeting. For instance, if your client needs an interpreter for a business meeting, the answers to some of the following questions will help you prepare: • What is the main purpose of the meeting? • How many people will participate? • How many people speak X and how many people speak Y? • Is anyone giving a presentation? • What is the format of the meeting: AGM, board meeting, informal/lunch meeting? • What business issues will be discussed: product development, distribution, personnel, exports? • Will the meeting focus on financial issues or on administration and management? • Could you share financial statements, correspondence and documentation if they are circulated before the meeting? The rate of interaction between the participants may vary depending on their ultimate intention. Consequently, the demands on you may be different depending on the answers to these questions. For instance, a boardroom meeting about redundancies between five business partners from different countries may be more demanding and intense for the interpreter than a more informal dialogue between a line manager and an employee regarding safety regulations compliance in a small office. Asking the right questions will help you envisage the interpreting situation, prepare relevant glossaries and feel more confident about the role you will play. More examples of pre-assignment questions can be found in CIOL's mini 'Guide to Interpreting in Business and Corporate Environments' at > resources. Unresponsive clients So what should you do if you are not getting answers from a client? Although some are willing to answer questions in detail, others tend to provide general information instead. One effective way of getting specific answers is by emphasising that the quality of your work very much depends on the information you receive prior to the assignment. If the businesses you work for have an active digital presence, you can find background information about their activities and teams on their website and social media platforms. This does not mean you will learn about the specific topics of the assignment, but it will help you to understand the context and your client better. You can also apply a surcharge to the quoted fee if your clients fail to provide reference materials relevant to their interpreting project. If you decide to do that, you should communicate those terms clearly to your clients when you issue your quotation. Questioning clients You can apply a surcharge to the quoted fee if your clients fail to provide reference materials IMAGES © SHUTTERSTOCK

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