Translation Troubles: Preaching Dynamics

Preaching a sermon that will be translated can be a daunting task especially if you don’t know what to expect. Here are some preaching dynamics that you need to be aware of to adequately prepare for a translated sermon.

(1) Effective speaking time is cut in half.

Although it seems like common sense, it’s not always the case. It will take as much time (and perhaps even more) to translate everything you say on stage. If the allotted time for the sermon is only 30 minutes, then that means you only have about 15 minutes of effective speaking time. Prepare your sermon accordingly. Also note that your overtime rate doubles. So if you go over by 5 minutes, that’s 10 minutes with translation. It’ll be helpful to time your sermon during your practice runs to avoid going overtime.

(2) Sentence by sentence translation is the standard procedure.

It’s pretty standard procedure to have every sentence translated right after you deliver it. Saying complete sentences allows you to convey complete ideas and helps reduce audience confusion. There are, however, exceptions to the standard procedure. The first exception is lengthy sentences. When you state a long sentence, you run the risk of confusing the translator or having them forget important parts of the statement. If your sentence is too long, consider shortening it. If not, deliver the beginning half of the sentence first and allow the translator to render it before proceeding. The second exception is a long series of words or phrases. For example, “Jesus is Lord, Savior, King, Master, Messiah, and Redeemer”. Again, you run the risk of confusing the translator. In listing items, pause briefly after each word or phrase to allow the translator to momentarily translate it.

(3) Movement on stage is restricted.

If you’re the type that likes to move around the stage a lot, you may have a difficult time doing so with another person there. In the handful of experiences that I’ve had, I haven’t been able to move around the stage at all. This is because moving around while the translator is speaking can be very distracting. The audience’s attention starts to shift to you instead of the translator who’s talking.

As we end this series here, let me note that there are plenty of things that I have yet to discover about translated sermons. I only have a handful of experiences to draw from. However, I will no doubt share more insights on the issue when they come.

Join the discussion: Are there any tips that you have to help with translated sermons?

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Series: Translation Troubles


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