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Presentations by super-star Chris Durban

10 Jun 2024

Written by Hannah Burdekin


The Auckland branch was very fortunate at our May meeting to have superstar French–English translator Chris Durban present in person on ‘Expanding your client base: Identifying, courting and winning the business you want’.

With good humour and plenty of anecdotes from her years of experience, Chris asked us all to think about whether we were engaging with our clients in the right way. If we as translators and interpreters do not have enough work to generate income, or do not have enough quality work of the type we want, then we clearly need to make changes because the problem is unlikely to be resolved by just sitting and waiting for clients to find us. As Chris reminded us, clients do not live in a separate country called ‘Client Land’ – they are everywhere around us. So how do we build trust and engagement?

Firstly, Chris covered some approaches that are unlikely to be successful:

  • Complaining about clients who don’t understand (negativity is a bad look and can get back to the clients in question)
  • Publishing complaining posts on LinkedIn or elsewhere about a lack of public respect and appreciation for the T&I profession (fine for national T&I organisations, but it’s not going to drive business for an individual)
  • Using social media for vaguely uplifting posts and expecting results (better to argue the benefits of working with a professional: avoiding the risk of poor translation causing harm to the client’s business and gaining control of the message via good communication)
  • Trying to oversell ourselves (we can’t specialise in everything so don’t even try; better to specialise narrowly, for instance in ‘cardiology’ rather than just ‘medical’ or in specific texts such as ‘commercial contracts’ rather than just ‘law’)

Chris then focussed on what works better, encouraging us to leave what she termed ‘Translator Land’ and meet clients where they are, whether that’s subject-specific conferences, trade shows, online events or forums where we can introduce the subject of clients’ language and communication needs. We need to bury our impostor syndrome, something we can achieve by becoming a genuine expert in our chosen specialist areas and by continually seeking to improve our language skills. As an expert, we should obviously be charging as an expert which means by the hour or by the project, definitely not by the word, and we should consider having a portfolio to publicise our skills. Chris’s final point was that we should be human and positive in our interactions with clients: yes, we need to speak their language but we can do that with humour and compliments.

Chris has kindly agreed to share her slides: download them using the links below.

Chris also generously gave an online presentation, where she chatted with Damien Brown, Operations Manager at Eichardt’s Private Hotel (Queenstown, NZ) about language services in the luxury hotel sector. Watch the recording here.


Download Chris Durban presentation
(Adobe PDF) 1724KB


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