Smiling female video interpreter holding a pen and sitting at a table in front of a laptop.

Be the Best Video Remote Interpreter You Can Be. Here’s How

Smiling female video interpreter holding a pen and sitting at a table in front of a laptop.

Looking back at 2020-21, we have all come a long way, Baby!

2020/21 showed us how technology can help medical interpreters reach more limited English proficient (LEP) individuals in a time of real need. This last year pushed interpreters into the spotlight, showing the world how instrumental they are in fighting the pandemic with their language skills.  

Our QA team recently shared their best pieces of advice for medical interpreters who are making the transition to a video remote interpreting (VRI) platform. Below are their top recommendations.

1-Make eye contact

Eunice, QA specialist and Mandarin VRI interpreter, recommends making eye contact during a video interaction.

“Visually engaging with the LEP [individual] and the provider builds trust and rapport,” Eunice Explains. Eye gaze is an important tool to have as a VRI interpreter.

According to the University of Michigan, eye contact is a powerful tool in communication. It can increase trust between two parties. And eye contact can become especially important in a video interpreting session. Keep this in mind, as interpreters tend to look down at their notes for too long.

Related: 4 Helpful Tips on How to Rock Remote Interpreting

2-Shift your mindset

Bahaa, an Arabic video interpreter, transitioned from on-site interpreting to a remote platform.

With his embrace of technology, Bahaa arrived to the conclusion: “VRI has the same goals [as on-site interpreting], just different use of technology.”

He believes remote interpreting shortens the distance and time between an interpreter and a patient. This makes it much more efficient to secure an interpreter for those in need.

Remember that it may take a little while to learn how to use the interpreting protocols and skills acquired throughout a career as an on-site interpreter. And we can make technology our friend by working to improve and self-evaluate our performance after each interaction.

Related: A Self-Assessment Is the Key to Being a Better Interpreter

A headset that a video remote interpreter would use lying against a yellow background.

3-Invest in good equipment

On the subject of improvement, Helen, VRI lead and Russian VRI interpreter, has a recommendation that should be at the top of everyone’s list: “Never stop learning . . . and invest in a good headset.”

You will likely have some questions about equipment, backgrounds, lighting, and ongoing education. For starters, invest in the right headset to ensure success. Second, this guarantees you can hear others clearly and deliver information accurately. A good headset should:

  • Fit comfortably around both ears
  • Have a noise-canceling and mute feature
  • Should be wired, not Bluetooth. Bluetooth headsets have a tendency to run out of battery for longer interpreting sessions

Related: Top 5 Things Video Remote Interpreters Can’t Live Without

4-A smile is worth a thousand words

We’ve saved the best piece of advice our QA specialists and VRI interpreters had to offer: Don’t forget to smile! Even kids know smiles are contagious! (See this adorable human who gave a TedX Kids talk on the topic!)

A smile can go a long way to convey a friendly demeanor and a helpful hand.

Interested in video remote interpreting?