Interpretation – how does it work?

Man with headphones listening to simultaneous interpreter

The two main types of interpretation are:

  • simultaneous (at the same time as the speaker)
  • consecutive (after the speaker has spoken)


Simultaneous interpretation provided from an interpretation booth

In this case, a team of interpreters work in a soundproof booth. The interpreters hear what is said in the room in their headphones and interpret it instantaneously. As a result, the participants can follow what is being said in the room perfectly, but in their own language.

  • No time loss: a free-flowing discussion can take place without language barriers
  • Great for small-scale events, but a must for most large-scale events
  • Many languages can be spoken and listened to at the same event
  • The number of listeners is unlimited
  • We are happy to arrange the appropriate booth and equipment for you

Remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI)

The number of remote simultaneous interpretation events has skyrocketed since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Find out more about this form of simultaneous interpretation on our dedicated page on RSI.

Simultaneous interpretation without an interpretation booth (whispered interpretation, chuchotage)

The interpreter is located among the participants and interprets the speaker’s words, at the same time as he speaks, into the ear of a maximum of two listeners. If there are more than two listeners, a tour guide-type audio set is used: the interpreter speaks into a microphone and the listeners receive the interpretation through headphones.

  • May be suitable for a small group of listeners
  • In situations where a booth is impractical or where the participants move from place to place
  • No time loss for the listeners, but if they want to take part in the discussion, their contribution will have to be interpreted after they speak (i.e. consecutively)
  • Not suitable for all venues
  • Since the interpreters are in the room, the sound of their voices may disturb other participants


The interpreter is located in the room. He/she listens to the speaker and takes notes, using a method particular to interpreters. The interpreter then interprets what has been said into the other language. The speaker and interpreter take turns to speak.

  • Most suitable for small groups
  • No booth or equipment required
  • The meeting will take somewhat longer due to consecutive interpretation, however participants may utilise that time to reflect and to take notes
  • Is less conducive to a dynamic discussion


Congrestolken also provides experienced sign language interpreters for meetings and conferences.

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