“Conference interpretation” is a generic term for interpreting at a conference, e.g. international summits or conferences. It includes simultaneous, consecutive and whispered interpreting, a form of simultaneous interpreting whereby the translation is carried out simultaneously for only a very few listeners but without any special equipment.

Above is a short video on a rather dry topic where you can see an example of how it should not be done.


The interpreter sits in an interpreting booth and listens to the speaker through headphones. Their interpretation, which takes place almost at the same time (i.e. simultaneously) is transmitted via microphone and can be heard by the conference participants via headphones. This form of interpreting is very exhausting both mentally (it requires a high level of concentration) and physically (there is a clear burden on the vocal chords) and requires sophisticated interpreting technique and expertise. This is why simultaneous interpreters work in teams of at least two or more interpreters who take turns in providing the translation.


This form of interpretation is delayed, i.e. the interpreter takes notes during individual passages of the presentation with the aid of his or her chosen personal method and then translates these notes into the target language. This is not a pure reproduction of the content but a short and well-structured target-language version. The passages can be of different lengths but commonly include a longer, content-related section of speech.

Since consecutive interpreting is very time-consuming due to the frequent changes between speaker and interpreter (so-called turn taking), it is rarely employed at conferences nowadays.