Video remote interpreting services and what they mean for interpreters

Video remote interpreting services weren’t the hype before the pandemic. Of course people used such services, but only complementary to their main way of doing things – live face to face events.

And then the pandemic abruptly killed events, which consequently took away many work opportunities for interpreters for a while – after all, events are at the core of what we do. Thus, without events, we found ourselves wondering what comes next and what should we do to catch up, adapt and even reinvent ourselves.

Surely, since we’re living the online dream, the opportunity presented itself quite rapidly: video remote interpreting services are suddenly the new black.

We’re sure these below are the very questions you’ve been asking yourself and your fellow interpreters these days:

  • But what do we need to know about this old-new thing?
  • What does it change for us?
  • What does it require?
  • Can we simply switch to this way of doing our jobs or we need to prepare more, maybe learn more about it?
  • Do we have the tech at hand or we’ll need investing into new tools of the trade?
  • What are actually the pros and cons of video remote interpreting services for interpreters?

We’re optimists here at Transl8, so we’ll start with the pros.

Pros of video remote interpreting services

First of all, video remote interpreting services mean freedom to work from home. Yeah, this #workfromhome thing has become a common place and, after being stuck indoors, it may not seem so convenient, but look at the bright side: you can work in your favourite pajamas.

Also, you may be readier for this than you think – each one of us is already online-savvy and has a device with a camera and a mic, and most of us have powerful such tools – fast laptops, good headsets, nice, speedy internet. If this is not the case for you, look at the bright side: you will learn new skills and use this chance to buy and use newer, better devices, that may cost some money now, but will save you time in the long run.

And if time is of importance to you, well, offering video remote interpreting services saves you time. Lots of it. You don’t need to take time to prepare for the event (dressing up takes ages) and you don’t have to commute, nor travel to the venue. Time saved? Hours! Just for one event. Now happily picture the things you can do with this free time!

Money is another gain.

You spend less of your hard earned cash on many things you only needed for the events, like clothing, shoes, makeup, and transportation. Bear in mind it is advisable to have your own experience in remote interpreting and decide the right price for type of service.

So, if you have kids, you dread commuting or traveling (especially now, when getting on a plane is difficult and there are traveling restrictions everywhere), you are not limited to local events – you can work online for any event, in your country or abroad. Thus, you have access to a global market and this is a real advantage since companies try to lower costs and will prefer working with native speakers of a language instead of the local professionals who may charge more.

Cons of Video remote interpreting services and what they mean for interpreters

These are not actually cons, but weak spots that you need to be aware of and plan for. The first and most difficult to tackle, because it requires an investment, is technology. You will need:

  • A good, noise cancelling microphone.
  • A good, fast desktop computer or a laptop with Ethernet port / adapter.
  • A large screen (very important if you want immersion and a better view of the speaker).

(We can recommend the solutions we found to work best at affordable prices, so contact us if you need advice).

Another potential problem is that we are better off when we can see the speaker’s face. This way we not only hear them, but see them, too, as we automatically read the speaker’s lips at the same time they utter the words. So, not being able to properly see the speaker may be a problem. We may need to concentrate more, we may need to make more efforts to fill in the blanks when the words spoken are harder to hear or when the speaker’s voice is not perfectly loud and clear. Still, we can do it. We’re in this profession for a reason, and this is just another challenge we can happily take on.

In the case of video remote interpreting services, if the camera is nicely following the speaker, the sound is good and our internet does well, we won’t have any difficulties at all.

Then there’s the inherent fatigue that comes with spending a lot of time pinned down to a chair, geared up with a headset and focusing on a screen. That can really take a toll and we’ll be very tired after the event, but it’s something we can adjust to.

Another issue is that we work in pairs and it’s important for us interpreters to communicate with our colleague flawlessly during the event. We’ll need to replace nonverbal cues with chat systems, but this, too, is something that we can accommodate to. Plus, some platforms integrate video feeds for interpreters, simulating the translation booth quite well – when we offer video remote interpreting services we can opt for such platforms or we can make requirements for such functionality to the event organizers.

We can even offer such video remote interpreting platforms ourselves!

This is actually one of the pros, because it’s really a great business opportunity for our profession. We can resell video remote interpreting platform access and setup to our clients – to them it’s not cost-efficient to buy such a platform themselves, because they might use it, say, only once or twice a year. But for us, who do this on a daily basis, it may be just the thing that can set us apart from other interpreters and offer us a competitive advantage and better pay.

At Transl8 we already offer an integrated solution for online video events with interpreting included. We have tried many solutions and found the best one, so we can help you set up shop if you want to extend your services and offer more value to your clients (contact us).

Our conclusion?

Online means we can be faster – we can offer our services also for emergencies, we can fill in rapidly if needed. From simultaneous interpreting at huge online events to teleconferences and consecutive interpreting by phone, we can do it all.

And video remote interpreting services are a huge opportunity for interpreters to expand beyond local, learn new skills and make more money and even do better business by offering solutions to our clients, not just the works.

We can all grow now. It really is time.

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