Tips for Public Speaking with a Translator

Jul 23, 2012



While we have been in Brazil, I have spoken a couple of times a week to churches, small groups, and even in a couple of corporate settings. Every talk that I have given has required someone to translate it into Portuguese. I have also had the privilege over the last thirty years to teach and preach in many nations around the world, being helped by some incredible translators. Here are a few thoughts on working with a translator.

1. Be Succinct. Using a translator doubles the time of every talk or presentation that you do. If you are used to preaching for thirty minutes, speaking with a translator doubles that to sixty. If you are used to teaching a class for fifty minutes, it is going to be one hundred minutes with a translator. This is something that you will have to take into account as you are preparing your talks. If you are giving multiple talks to the same group, you can divide your message into sections and give it over a couple of sessions.

2. Use Bullet Points. This will help you to be succinct. This also makes it easy for your translator to follow. Share your point and then develop it. Using bullet points will also make your speech easier for your audience to follow.

3. Speak in Short Phrases. Translating is difficult work. Don’t make it harder by giving an extended monologue. Deliver a sentence or two that conveys your thought and then let your translator catch up. You don’t want your translator to miss anything important. If you deliver too much information before you pause, there is a good chance the translator might not get the entire thought that you want translated.

4. Use Simple Words and Phrases. I quickly acknowledge that most of the translators I have worked with over the years are much smarter than me. While I struggle to speak English, they all speak at least two langauges. Some of the guys and girls that have helped me in Brazil speak three or four languages. It is still important, though, to not use difficult or complicated words or phrases. Occasionally, a translator will not understand a word or phrase that you use. Be flexible. Quickly rephrase your thought. The worst thing to do in the middle of your sermon, teaching, or speech, is to get bogged down.

To be continued…

Would you like to help Annie and I have an impact in Brazil? Just click here. Obrigado! (Thank you!)

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