Going International? Remember That Only 7% of Communication is Verbal


The statistics citing that communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal relates to a 1967 study by social scientist Albert Mehrabian. Despite the study being five decades old, Mehrabian’s experiment holds important lessons for businesses going international; he demonstrated that non-verbal behaviour is crucial to the way we choose to communicate with others.

Facial expressions, body movements and hand gestures all contribute to our understanding of what a person is saying, even when they are speaking in a language we are not familiar with. In business, communication is key and in a world of increased global interaction, face to face interpreting services are more relevant than ever before.

Why full clarity is essential to international businesses

Face-to-face communication sends a message before you even say a word. People will not only hear what you are saying, but they will perceive how you are saying it, based on voice intonation, body language and emotion.

Face to face interpretation can make clients feel valued and appreciated, whereas communicating over the phone is distant and less interactive. Face to face interpretation gives clients the chance to contribute their input. It also allows clients to confirm what their understanding is and if they have any concerns or feedback to share.

What are the various forms of face to face interpretation?

As translation experts Global Voices have explained, there are three main forms of face to face interpreting. They are: consecutive, simultaneous and Chuchotage (whispered).

Consecutive interpreting

This is when a speaker pauses to allow an interpreter to repeat what has been said in the target language before continuing.

Advantages: the interpreter is physically present and interpretation equipment is not needed, which reduces costs.

Best suited for: business negotiations, delegation and individual escorting, round tables and B2B (bilateral) meetings

Simultaneous interpreting

This is when the speaker is translated in real time by an interpreter working in a soundproofed booth. The speaker speaks into a microphone, the interpreter receives the sound through a headset and renders the message into a microphone simultaneously.

Advantages: quick and accurate translation.

Best suited for: conferences, lectures, seminars, conventions and courses.  

Chuchotage (whispered) interpreting

This is when the interpreter sits next to the person who needs to understand what is being said, and whispers translations in their ear.

Advantages: the interpreter listens to the speaker, and whispers the translation to the listener in real-time. No special equipment is needed which means whispering interpreters can walk and talk, making this option ideal for site visits.

Best suited for: intimate meetings, requiring real-time continuous translation between a pair or small group of speakers.

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