For people who find themselves in need of interpretation for a meeting, workshop, seminar, conference etc, there is often confusion over what type of interpretation would be best suited to their particular event.

Here is a simple definition to help you understand the differences between consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation.


Simply, the presenter delivers a few lines, then pauses while the interpreter repeats what he has just said in the target language.

This can work well in small groups where there is only one foreign language to be catered for and no specialist equipment is required.

However, it is difficult to maintain a “flow” with the constant pauses; delivery of a message takes twice as long and it can get very confusing if multiple interpreters are trying to work.


The presenter speaks into a microphone, which is fed directly into the headset of the interpreter, who is sitting in a sound-proofed booth.

The interpreter simultaneously interprets the presenters words as they are speaking.

The interpreters words are transmitted out into the room, so the delegates can listen to the presenters words in their own language in “real time”.

As the interpreters are working in sound proofed booths, there are no limits to the number of languages that can be interpreted and delegates simply select the language they wish to listen to by changing channels on their receivers.

This is a very simplistic definition of consecutive interpretation and simultaneous interpretation and there are many advantages and disadvantages to both. Please contact us if you would like more information or have any other questions.