Sales, it can be said, is all about interjecting yesses into a conversation. It’s why, when we go to a car dealership, they don’t ask questions like “Do you want to buy this car?”, but instead ask questions like, “Wouldn’t it be great to drive this car?” Creepiness aside, interpreters can often fall prey to allowing too many noes into the conversation.
Do you do translation? No, I’m an interpreter.
Oh, so you speak two languages? Yes, but no. I interpret between languages.
One way to gauge how confused interpretation consumers are is the degree to which agencies go to ‘educate the consumer’. A quick review of ATA’s agency database in the greater Washington DC area reveals that 5 of 8 agencies (63%) explicitly describe interpretation modes in some way. This is typically done through a wordy and convoluted explanation of how or where the mode is done.
We also feel the need to educate. But, in avoiding the feel of being patronizing to our prospective clients, we think it’s best to offer information in a way that they can make choices about what they learn. So, we built this idea into our website by offering layered specifics and images.
The first layer presents an overview of our services: Consecutive Interpretation, Simultaneous Interpretation and Translation. Our distinctness is brought out by using words that people can relate to on this page, like authentic, adapt, communication, accuracy and quality. Other, more academic concepts are also sprinkled throughout, like inter-person, native speaker, and target language, but these are kept to a minimum.
Overcoming Confusion through integrated imaging.
Consecutive interpretation is presented alongside a thumbnail of how it works.
This is set next to another thumbnail for simultaneous interpretation:
Further down the page, we also offer a thumbnail for translation:
All images are clickable. For simplicity sake, here, we are only talking about the second layer comparison for consecutive and simultaneous modes.
Clicking on the first thumbnail above takes the prospective client to a page with detailed information about consecutive interpretation, along with another, bigger, thumbnail. This is the same as on the previous page, but includes more detail and an explanation in the form of text:
Here, the prospective client can engage with the idea that consecutive interpretation is effective in creating a step-by-step discourse, between two interlocutors - blue and orange. A short explanation of the image is provided above the image. Advantages and disadvantages of consecutive interpretation (in contrast to simultaneous interpretation) is written below.
The same format is presented to the prospective client when they go to the simultaneous interpretation side. Here’s that image:
This represents the same two interlocutors, now engaging in a more fluid discourse, as opposed to the step-by-step nature of consecutive interpreting. Again, short explanation above the image. Advantages, and disadvantages presented below.
This form of presentation, we hope, allows prospective clients to engage with the amount of detail they want and feel they need. It keeps us away from talking about ‘what is not’ (interpretation is not translation, for example), and decreases the amount of patronizing we push onto prospective clients while they are just trying to figure out the types of value we can provide.