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From Inside the Interpretation Booth: Tips for Speakers at ICANN 51

7 October 2014
By The Language Services Team

In addition to the U.N. six languages, this content is also available in


With ICANN 51 just around the corner, we are getting ready for another fruitful meeting, with plenty of presentations delivered by ICANN staff and community members alike.

Since most presentations will be interpreted and scribed simultaneously at ICANN 51, the Language Services Team would like to offer five top tips for speakers from our experience as interpreters and scribes to make sure your message gets across to the audience, no matter what the subject or language used:

  1. Don't be a mystery – please say your name every time you take the floor so interpreters, scribes, and remote participants know who you are. Keep in mind that people attending the meeting remotely can only hear the interpreter's voice and are unable to know who's speaking unless we can tell them.

  2. Share – For those of you who are well-prepared and have drafted speeches in advance on sessions, please make copies of your presentation available to the interpreters  – this will allow them to look up any terminology and be better prepared to interpret your session and articulate the nuances of what you have been crafting so carefully for the meeting. The more we prepare, the better the interpretation of your session will be!

  3. Show off your native language – From our experience, even if you are fluent in English – the community receives comments made in native languages very well and, if your native language is one of the 6 UN languages or Portuguese, why don't you speak it at ICANN?

  4. Technology matters – check your microphone is working before you start – but avoid tapping on it – to the interpreters, this could be quite painful. Feel free to just ask if people can hear you – interpreters will give you a friendly nod from the booth. Also, please keep your other electronic equipment far away from the microphone – the screeching noise that comes from your headphones when you speak into the microphone prevents the interpreters from hearing the important messages you are conveying.

  5. Don't rush: Written documents are more structurally complex and elaborate than everyday speech and do not always sound natural if read out loud, even at normal pace. Reading aloud a written speech very quickly will not only confuse the audience but will make the interpreter's job difficult, and sometimes impossible. From our experience, the best way to express your thoughts is to go straight to the point by speaking at normal pace, clearly, and logically. It is not just the interpreters who will benefit from the pleasant pace – your audience will too.

We hope these tips will help you enhance your presentations and outreach experiences during ICANN 51. If you feel you need any further orientation or help, please do not hesitate to contact the Language Services Team. We wish you a successful ICANN 51! See you in Los Angeles!


The Language Services Team