Simultaneous interpreters listen to what the speaker is saying while concurrently saying it in another language. During this time, interpreters learn to listen to a speaker and interpret with only a few seconds delay. Ideally, simultaneous interpreters review speeches or other materials available before the event to prepare. This generally requires interpreting equipment as it’s difficult to hear what’s being said in either language when they are being spoken at the same time.

Consecutive interpreters listen to what the speaker is saying, and convey the message into another language after the speaker has paused. Typically, the speaker will pause after each complete thought to give the interpreter time to deliver the message. Simultaneous interpreting generally works better for large, live events because interpreting happens in real time and the attendees aren’t kept waiting whereas consecutive interpreting works for small gatherings or one-on-one meetings where the conversation allows for pauses to interpret.