Briefing the interpreters

A well-briefed interpreter does a better job. The purpose of your conference can be as relevant as the topic.

Most of the information needed already exists in some form; just make sure it gets to the interpreting team.

Ensure accuracy and better delivery by providing as much information as you can ahead of time.


Whatever documents are available should be provided in advance. They need not be produced only for the interpreters' sake! Background documents may include:

  • Meeting agenda
  • Past agendas and past minutes
  • Glossaries, vocabulary lists
  • Any documents to be discussed at the meeting
  • Abstracts of presentations or speeches
  • Speaker résumés
  • An MC script or timeline
  • Relevant links
  • Speaker presentations or speeches received in advance

Last-minute material may include any of the above plus:

  • PowerPoint presentations by speakers
  • Speakers' notes
  • Chairing notes
  • Names and titles of anyone who will be introduced (especially attending VIPs, chairs and moderators)
  • Agenda changes

Briefing session

Hold a Q&A session for the interpreting team when appropriate, particularly if the meeting subject is highly specialised.

If your organisation has a distinctive culture with unusual catchphrases or job titles, a brief introductory talk (or a standard induction pack for employees) will be helpful.

Spell out whatever extra security measures you require: encryption, immediate deletion, immediate return of paper documents, etc.


Members of AIIC are bound to professional secrecy. It is the main principle of our Code of Ethics.

Texts or presentations supplied to AIIC interpreters directly by speakers will not be shared with you or anybody else without the speaker's explicit authorization.

Confidentiality extends to whoever shares information with interpreters for the purpose of the meeting.

Recommended citation format:
AIIC. "Briefing the interpreters". November 28, 2011. Accessed April 8, 2020. <>.