Having an interpreter is self-evident in any meeting involving people speaking different languages. There are, however, situations in which it might not seem that an interpreter is needed, but I am inviting you to think once again.
Having a good interpreter is a sign of respect: for your own and your audience’s cultures, language and history.
What about those cases, in which either you speak or your audience understands rather well a foreign language? Why not consider the following aspects?

THE DIVINITY GAP – Coming to a meeting with an interpreter makes you look more powerful, more important. Apart from showing that you can afford an interpreter, having one puts some distance between you and the other side.

But—you will argue—why would you want to have any distance at all when communicating? At times it is a life-saving strategy.

TIME CURVE – Even if you understand and speak the other side’s language, interpreting will buy you time. Instead of having to answer off the cuff, you will have more time to think about the right thing to say.

SCAPEGOAT – If anything goes wrong, you can always blame the interpreter, but please, inform her in advance that you might use the ‘lost-in-translation’ ruse.

GRILLING -We often tend to overestimate our skills. Press conferences are usually managed by skilled PR staff, but journalists will most of all want to hear from you. Answering unpleasant questions in tense situations might result in sentences that are not exactly well formulated. A good interpreter will, at least, put your thoughts in an orderly sentence, probably with properly chosen words.

SIGNING DEALS – You have had the agreement checked by lawyers and you are ready to sign it.

Experienced politicians and business people will often try to sneak a few last-minute changes. Interpreting will, once again, give you more time to think and react properly.

CLASS – You and your assistants have staged an important event with a foreign speaker. Every detail has been double-checked. You have made sure you have got the best venue, the flowers have cost you a fortune, the sound system is the best you could find. Now you need a very professional interpreter to make your guest’s words sound as domestic as possible.

The best compliment I have ever heard about an interpeter was by a lady who spoke excellent English: “I did not need interpretation at all, but the interpreter was unnoticeable. It was like hearing the speaker twice… for the same price!”