The Top Conference Interpreting Challenges (and how to overcome them)

Prestige Network Blog

When arranging conferences and events, there’s a lot of pressure to make sure you get it right, as there are no second chances if it goes wrong. Even without interpreting there are already plenty of things to consider – from the big challenges, such as arranging a venue, to the small ones, like name badges – so you don’t need the headache of language to cause any major issues.

It’s why we always make sure that whenever we’re engaged to help out with the interpreting or translation side of any event, that’s one aspect of the whole thing you no longer need to worry about.

In order to help you avoid the pitfalls, we wanted to take a look at some of the biggest (and most common) challenges we’ve seen, and what you need to do in order to prevent them ruining your event.

Some of the challenges you might encounter

1) The unreliable interpreting provider drop-out

This is a worryingly common phenomenon in event interpreting – whether your regular interpreting supplier simply can’t find the resources for your location and languages, or if you’re far down the line with arrangements that simply can’t be fulfilled (we’ve seen it happen), there’s always a risk that other providers can leave you in the lurch. This can be hard to recover from, unless you know the right people!

2) Last-minute international delegates

This can happen very easily – you get a delegate (or even a whole team) that are booked in to attend last minute, and they don’t speak the local language of the event. However much you plan, there’s always the possibility that such a situation could arise with no advance warning. Again, it’s a matter of knowing where to look to find an interpreter at short notice.

3) Languages aren’t considered until it’s (almost) too late

It happens to the best of us – with everything else taking front seat, the language requirements at an event might not be considered until eleventh hour. In the run-up to any event, especially a large one, there is so much else to consider that you might not even realise until just days before the event. While it’s not great, it’s not always impossible to resolve with the right assistance.

The solutions

So, we’ve looked at some of the challenges that can pop up – as with many difficulties they’re often hard to foresee or they happen at the last minute. But what can you do about it? Here’s some advice that can apply to most scenarios…

1) Find an experienced team that you can trust

It’s not always what you know, but who you know. If you have the right contacts, you can make anything happen. When it comes to interpreting, there’s only one contact you need: Prestige Network. From the first call to the post-event wash-up, we’ll have your back the whole way.

2) Make sure you have a dedicated account manager

This is a pre-emptive approach that allows you to avoid a lot of small and big problems arising – with a single point of contact you’ll have someone who understands your business, your needs and even you. We make a point of providing a consistent and dedicated account manager looks after each event to ensure it all goes smoothly.

3) Have on-site support

There’s a lot to go wrong at events, but by making sure that you have a specific person responsible for the interpreting, you have one less thing to worry about. We have experienced teams led by senior interpreting staff, and we often provide on-site project management to keep things in order on the day.

4) Get the right equipment

This is really two points: a) be prepared and b) don’t skimp on equipment. We can advise the correct quantity of interpreting hardware (e.g. headsets or booths) and make sure that you can acquire it when you need it, even at short notice.

Find out more

There you have it. A brief guide to some of the challenges you might face regarding event interpreting, and how you can deal with them. For more information on any aspect of event and conference interpreting, get in touch with our team at or by calling 01635 866 888.