Close this search box.

How to Use a Zoom Interpreter for Remote Meetings

Whether you work from home or conduct calls with overseas stakeholders, virtual meetings are a standard part of today’s business landscape. If you are part of a multilingual team or collaborate with international business partners, you may need to hire a Zoom interpreter to make virtual meetings run smoothly.

Language interpreters can foster inclusivity and support effective communication in virtual meetings, and Zoom offers a language interpretation feature to help facilitate interpretation services. Hosts can include as many as 20 interpreters in virtual meetings, so there’s no need to stress about scheduling international calls. 

But how do you find professional interpreters to join your Zoom meeting? In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about setting up the Zoom language interpretation feature, how to find a Zoom interpreter, how much these language interpretation services cost, and more.

What is a Zoom Interpreter?

Think about the global nature of our world today. You no longer have to be limited by location to attend an international event, from business meetings to seminars. It’s easier than ever to connect with people worldwide, but if you don’t speak the same language, the communication barrier can make it hard to engage in these virtual events.

That’s where a Zoom interpreter comes in.

Zoom interpreters are professional interpreters who join virtual meetings to help break down language barriers. You can add a professional interpreter to your virtual event if you enable language interpretation on Zoom.

There are two types of virtual language interpretation services available – Remote Simultaneous Interpretation and Video Remote Interpreting.

Remote Simultaneous Interpretation happens simultaneously while the original speaker is talking. This is called “simultaneous interpretation” and is generally recommended for virtual classroom settings, webinars, conferences, and any meetings with a large audience.

Video Remote Interpreting is called “consecutive interpretation” because the speaker pauses and waits for the interpreter to provide the language interpretation in between sentences. This is recommended for one-on-one meetings or virtual meetings where the entire audience speaks the same language. ALTA offers this service on demand.

The Remote Simultaneous Interpretation Service requires an advanced appointment but is the best option for most large Zoom meetings or webinars. With this service, the interpreter provides their own audio channel so attendees can tune in and listen to the meeting in their native language.

Does Zoom Provide the Interpreter?

Zoom does not provide interpreters, so it’s up to the meeting hosts to hire a professional interpreter in advance.

If you are looking for live interpretation during your next virtual meeting, here’s what to consider when hiring interpreters:

Language Proficiency

If you need interpretation services, it’s crucial that the professional interpreters you hire are able to provide accurate and reliable translations. The interpreter needs to be able to quickly translate the meeting so the participants are up-to-speed.

You should also consider the type of meeting you are conducting before hiring an interpreter. Will the meeting include medical or legal jargon? Does the interpreter need to understand a specific industry or complex topic?

It’s possible to find interpreters who specialize in medical, legal, business, or education interpreting, so make sure you consider these requirements during the hiring process.

Number of Languages

Zoom allows up to 20 different interpreters in one meeting, so think about how many different languages you need to provide interpreters for.

ALTA’s network of 2,500 professional interpreters can provide Zoom interpretation services in 100s of different languages. Some languages are even available on demand, including:

  • American Sign Language (ASL)
  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • Korean
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

Users can decide which language they want to hear when they join the meeting, but just consider what options to provide. Contact ALTA to learn more.

How Often Do You Need a Zoom Interpreter?

Think about how often you need to hire an interpreter for virtual meetings. Are you scheduling a one-off multilingual event, or do you conduct meetings with participants who speak multiple languages a few times a week?

ALTA has solutions for either scenario. If you are a meeting host who needs to add language interpreters for a one-time interpreting session, consider hiring an interpreter in advance who can provide Remote Simultaneous Interpretation.

However, if you are looking for more regular access to a language interpreter, consider signing up for ALTA’s monthly plan. With this option, you will have 24/7 on-demand access to interpretation services in 10 different languages. This plan also allows for access to additional languages if booked in advance.

Keep in mind that the on-demand services are Video Remote Interpretation which means that you will have to pause for the interpreter, unlike Remote Simultaneous Interpretation which allows for translation in real-time.

How Do I Enable Interpretation in Zoom?

It’s easier than you might think to enable the language interpretation feature on Zoom. We’ll go step by step to make sure your multilingual Zoom meetings run seamlessly.

Step 1: Make Sure Your Tech is Up to Speed

As a host, you must have a Pro, Business, Education, or Enterprise account in order to use the interpretation feature. You’ll also need to select “Generate Automatically” for the Meeting ID; otherwise, this feature won’t work.

The Global minimum version of Zoom is required for interpretation services, so don’t skip the software updates.

Step 2: Determine What Languages You Need to Offer

Think about the languages you need to offer in the meeting. When you add an interpreter to the meeting (which we will discuss in a few steps), you’ll also need to assign their language channel.

Step 3: Hire Interpreters

Once you know what languages you need, contact ALTA to find a professional interpreter who can help. For Remote Simultaneous Interpretation, you will need to schedule an interpreter in advance, but you can hire an on-demand interpreter in 10 languages who can offer Video Remote Interpretation.

Step 4: Schedule a Meeting and Enable Language Interpretation

To schedule a meeting on Zoom, click “schedule meeting” and then select “Generate Automatically” next to the option “Meeting ID”.

You will then need to select “Enable Language Interpretation” next to the option “Interpretation.”

Step 5: Add the Interpreters’ Information

Now it’s time to add your interpreters’ information. You will need to enter each interpreter’s name, email address, and language. Zoom allows for up to 20 different interpreters but don’t worry – you can add or remove interpreters before the meeting as needed.

Step 6: Save

This is key! Once you’ve added the interpreters’ information, don’t forget to hit “Save.” If you need to make any changes, just go back in and select “Edit.”

Step 7: Inform Attendees

Once you have the interpreters lined up, let the Zoom participants know that language interpretation will be offered. Send an email with a run-down of how to join the meeting in their preferred language.

For the participants to hear their preferred audio channel, they will need to select “Interpretation” and then click the language they want. They can hit “mute original audio” if they only want to hear their audio channel.

Step 8: Start the Meeting and Click Interpretation

When it’s time to start the meeting, the host must start the meeting from a desktop version of Zoom (the mobile version won’t work for this step). After starting the meeting or webinar, the host should click “Interpretation” and “Start.” After those controls have been selected, the language interpreters will be able to start interpreting, and attendees can select the audio channel they want to join.

Troubleshooting – Tips for the Host

Enabling the language interpretation feature on Zoom is easy to use, but there are a few things to keep in mind to keep your meeting running smoothly:

  • You must use Generate Automatically for the Meeting ID, not your Personal Meeting ID (PMI).
  • The language interpretation feature only works with scheduled meetings and can’t be used in instant meetings.
  • Language interpretation is not available in breakout rooms.

Troubleshooting – Tips for the Interpreters

If you are hired to work as a virtual interpreter, here are a few things to remember:

  • Interpreters can only be assigned to one language audio channel and can only interpret between the original meeting audio channel and their assigned audio channel.
  • Interpreters must join the Zoom with computer audio.
  • Make sure you have a stable internet connection so you don’t miss any of the original audio.

Troubleshooting – Tips for the Participants

Hosts should inform participants in advance that language interpretation will be available during the meeting. As a participant, here are a few things to make it easier for you to join the audio channel you need:

  • You will need to join through computer audio/VoIP. Dial-in or Call-me features don’t allow for language interpretation.
  • You can mute the original audio if you don’t want to hear both languages during the meeting. But if you want to speak back to the original audio channel, simply unmute yourself and talk.
  • You will need a stable internet connection to get the most out of the language interpretation feature.

How Much Does Zoom Translation Cost?

If you are interested in taking advantage of the Zoom interpretation feature and hiring an interpreter for your next meeting, contact ALTA for a quote.

ALTA has a network of 2,500+ who are available based on your language and subject matter needs. ALTA can connect you with a professional interpreter at an affordable price, whether you are looking for a monthly plan or a one-time service.

The Zoom interpretation feature is an excellent way to make your meetings more accessible to clients, coworkers, and collaborators around the world. With the current global business environment, it’s more important than ever to be able to easily connect with people regardless of the language they speak.

ALTA can help you connect with the right person for your language interpretation needs. Contact ALTA today to learn how our team of professional interpreters can make your next Zoom presentation or pitch a multilingual experience.

Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based travel blogger and freelance content creator. You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.

Other Resources

Bilingual Pay Differential Benefits

In today’s globalized world, the ability to speak multiple languages has become increasingly valuable. Businesses and organizations of all kinds are expanding their operations internationally, often partnering with companies abroad or marketing products and services in overseas markets. Additionally, in...

Learn More

How to Build a Language Strategy for Companies Expanding to Canada

Companies expanding to Canada must be aware of the country’s linguistic requirements. Both French and English are official languages in Canada, thanks to the Official Languages Act of 1969. This Act meant that federal agencies must offer services in both...

Learn More

What is a Simultaneous Interpreter?

If you’ve ever seen a sign language interpreter at the bottom of your screen during a news segment or presidential debate, you’ve seen a simultaneous interpreter at work. Often hired for large multinational meetings and international conferences, the job of...

Learn More

Contact Us

Get Started Today

Interested in our language services? Complete the form or call us during business hours (9 AM to 6:00 PM ET) at 800.895.8210.

Preparing for your test?

View our test prep materials or FAQ’s for common questions about taking a test.