How to Successfully Run Video and Telephone Interpreting Sessions

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Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) and Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) allows users to run remote interpreting sessions in any language. VRI and OPI continue to grow in popularity across Australia, especially in emergency settings that call for immediate and concise multilingual communication. 

How do Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) and Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) differ?

Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) is an interpreting service option that connects a user to an interpreter via video call. At 2M, we offer VRI via our secure 2M lingo™ interpreting platform for scheduled or on-demand requests. During a VRI call, the participants join the call remotely and are visible on camera.  

VRI is typically used in high-stakes environments where visual cues are important to convey meaning and ensure understanding, such as:  

  • Healthcare/telehealth: to facilitate communication between healthcare providers and patients.  
  • Legal proceedings: to support understanding and language exchange during legal proceedings, including trials, hearings, depositions and client consultations.  

VRI is also commonly employed in corporate settings to support access to conferences, events, negotiations, and presentations. In these cases, visual cues can enhance engagement and help maintain audience attention during long or technical events.  

Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI) allows users to access interpreters via telephone. Users can also access interpreters scheduled or on demand via 2M lingo 

OPI is usually used in similar settings to VRI. Telephone interpreting, however, may be preferred in situations where there is limited access to technology, as OPI only requires a telephone connection. For highly verbal interactions where visual cues are less important, OPI may also be used. In low-tech environments, such as remote areas or disaster zones, where wi-fi connectivity might be unreliable, OPI is a more cost-effective and efficient interpreting option.  

What are the benefits of Video Remote Interpreting (VRI)?

  1. Flexibility: Access an interpreter from anywhere and at any time. A convenient option for those who cannot attend the session in person.
  2. Visual communication: The emotional expressions that humans present carry a communicative component. Visual expressions can help participants during interpreting sessions better understand the relayed information, therefore enhancing communication, trust, and interaction. Most experts agree that around 70-93% of all communication is nonverbal. Nonverbal communication conveys emotions, intentions, and attitudes more than our words alone can. As a skill that once served an important survival function, recognising nonverbal communication helps us as humans pick up on information that might not be conveyed through verbal communication.
  3. Accessibility: VRI is accessible to Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals. At 2M, we provide Auslan (Australian Sign Language) in a range of session options.  
  4. Immediate access: Unlike onsite interpreting, interpreters can be accessed on demand for VRI sessions. This is particularly crucial in emergency settings that require an interpreter as soon as possible. At 2M, we also offer on-demand access to Auslan interpreters.  

What are the benefits of Over the Phone Interpreting (OPI)?

  1. Convenience: Interpreter services can be engaged without the need for equipment beyond a telephone.  
  2. Accessibility: Unlike VRI, users do not need to connect to Wi-Fi to access OPI services.  
  3. Fast set up and connection: OPI requires minimal set up, making it a convenient option for users who may not be familiar with or have access to a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. VRI, however, may require set up time.  
  4. Increased language availability: OPI services support a range of languages due to the availability of telephone-based interpreters in Australia. This may result in shorter wait times for rarer languages.  

Both VRI and OPI are highly responsive and more cost effective than in-person interpreting services, eliminating travel expenses and onsite equipment set up.  

How to choose between OPI and VRI

Choosing between VRI and OPI depends on the session type. First think about the nature of communication and if visual cues are important for participating parties. If the session takes place in a sensitive setting, such as a hospital or court, where facial gestures and expressions might be beneficial for understanding, opting for VRI is usually a safer choice. 




  • Affordable
  • Available for scheduled bookings and on-demand requests
  • Caters to accessibility needs


  • Dependent on wi-fi connection and access to laptop, desktop, or smartphone




  • Convenient
  • Immediate access during emergencies
  • High availability of interpreters


  • Lack of visual cues
  • Limited context
  • Unsuitable for multiple participants

How to successfully run OPI and VRI sessions

We provide NAATI-certified Interpreters for remote sessionsFrom our experience providing remote interpreters across many industries and purposes, here are a few tips to enhance your experience as the end user: 

Seek trained and qualified interpreters 

If an interpreter holds National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) certification, this means they meet NAATI's requirements across professionalism, cultural competence, and confidentiality protocols.  

Engaging NAATI-certified interpreters is particularly important in sensitive settings such as health and legal, where interpreters who are specialists in these fields can best support communication exchange.  

Arrange a quiet and private spot for the session to take place  

This eliminates any sound that may impact the quality of interpretation. Set up and test the equipment to ensure the sound quality and video (if using) are clear. The interpreter will do the same on their end.  

Brief the interpreter to give them time to prepare for the session 

You might like to explain the session's nature, the parties present, or cultural factors at play. This information will help the interpreter to understand what to expect and how best to cater to the needs of the parties requiring language support. 

Make sure to pause to allow the interpreter time to relay the message 

While you are speaking, choose appropriate moments to pause to allow the interpreter to interpret the message. Pausing more frequently may also help the interpreter to interpret more accurately. 

Limit the use of metaphors, idioms, or colloquialisms that may not interpret well in another language 

Be as clear and concise as possible. In these situations, the interpreter will likely not interpret a phrase that does not translate well into the target language. In the interest of time, it is best to leave these sayings out. 


VRI and OPI support non- and limited-English-speaking participants engage in essential services and international-scale events. By employing these tips, you can successfully run accessible and inclusive sessions that benefit both user and provider.  

If you need an experienced interpreter for VRI and/or OPI sessions, contact our Interpreting Team at interpreting@2m.com.au or call +61 (0)3 9000 0751.  

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