Consecutive interpreting

Consecutive interpreting is a sequential form of interpreting.

While the speaker is presenting in the source language, the interpreter listens and takes notes based upon a specially developed, individual notation technique. When the speaker pauses after a few sentences, the interpreter presents the previous statements in the target language.
This form of interpreting is more time-consuming as each statement is essentially delivered twice. In fact, the interpreter needs approximately the same time for the interpretation as the speaker. For this reason, it is only recommended for shorter events.

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How do consecutive interpreters work?

In simultaneous interpreting the interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker. Consecutive interpreting requires the speaker to present in short passages (one to five minutes or whatever time interval the interpreter and speaker agree on) followed by the consecutive interpreter repeating the content and tone of the message in the target language. While the client must allow twice as much time for this type of interpreting, this method allows for flexibility in terms of location as consecutive interpreting does not require an interpreter's booth or special equipment. In other words, consecutive interpreters can work in almost any setting. But as this method requires specific skills on the part of the interpreter, consecutive interpretation is not offered by every professional interpreter.


Methodology & Empathy: Professional Interpreting

Symbol for notations: paper and penIn order for a consecutive interpreter to be able to faithfully interpret into the target language what has been said in the source language, they take notes during each passage of speech. Each interpreter has a highly individualized notation technique consisting of symbols and signs that no one else can decipher. As in other forms of interpreting, an important part is to convey not only the literal meaning but also the mood, e.g. humor, irony or anger.
Symbol of group pf people: consecutive interpreter, speaker listenersBefore the event begins, the speaker and interpreter agree on the length of each passage to be interpreted. Interpreter and speaker can decide that the speaker will pause after each sentence, paragraph, train of thought or even an entire brief speech – depending on the individual preferences of the presenter and consecutive interpreter.



When best to use consecutive interpreting?

Since consecutive interpreting doubles the speaking time, this type of interpreting service is best suited for short events and meetings. Typically, consecutive interpreters work at events such as:

  • Dinner or ceremonial speeches
  • Press conferences
  • Welcome speeches
  • Bilateral negotiations
  • Factory tours
  • Delegation visits
  • Readings
  • Radio

Sworn and certified interpreters also use this interpreting format in official settings including:

  • Courts
  • Registry offices
  • Police
  • Hospitals
  • Prisons
  • Notaries


Successful international communication

Whether in a private or official setting, professional interpretation will make a significant contribution to the success of your international event. Our agency renders high-quality interpreting and translation services. Please contact us if you need a highly professional and experienced consecutive interpreter for your project or if you would like more information on the advantages and disadvantages of consecutive versus simultaneous interpreting.


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