Why Do You Need To Provide Documents to Interpreters?

The importance of providing background documents to interpreters

Providing documents to Chinese interpreters are essential in ensuring the success of any conference or meeting. It helps the interpreters prepare for the meeting.

“He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration.” 
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge

What documents would they normally need to prepare?

1. Glossary of terms

2. Agenda

3. List of delegates

4. Presentations


This glossary of terms is most important for industry specific meetings which have their own “language” or usually known as “specialist terminology” or “jargon”. Highly technical and medical meetings would fall in this category.  By providing this ahead of time,  it allows the interpreter to do research and study the appropriate term in their native language.

Remember, there are words or phrases in English that do not exist in another language and may only be interpreted by describing the term. On some occasions, when translated directly, it will have a different meaning; therefore, changing the thought of the sentence. So, to ensure everyone is in the same page, a glossary of terms is important.


This helps the interpreter know the chronological order of presentations for the day, on top of knowing the timings for the meeting. This will also help them arrange the presentations they receive in order of the day.


The list of delegates is also requested to help the interpreters learn how to pronounce delegate’s name should the speaker refer to anyone of them during the presentation or Q&A afterwards.


It is usually a tug-o-war between the client and the interpreters when it comes to providing documents. Clients do their best to provide these, however, they do take time to provide it and when they do, usually changes are made at the last minute. Changes at the last minute are ok!

Interpreters do understand that but even in draft format, it will greatly help in their preparation. It helps them with the flow and the thought process of the speaker.

Clients sometimes think that they need to provide the text version of their presentation, as they would say it on the day; well, if it is available, interpreters would love it! However, it is not neccesary but most certainly welcome. If this is provided, interpreters can get into the presentation hook, line and sinker by working out the best way to say a certain English sentence into their native language.

Bottom line, it will make the meeting run smoother on the interpretation front.