As a seasoned Conference Interpreter, I’ve often found myself quite appalled by all the faux pas and blunders that are so common amongst fellow “professional” interpreters. I have lost count of the times I was stuck inside a booth, dreading the next few days as I dealt with an individual who consistently arrived late, made it a point to put down the technicians (bad idea, my friend! Who will get you out of a pickle the next time you trip over a cord and your entire console shuts off mid-session?), disappeared out of the blue to go talk on their cell-phone, grudgingly carried out their 30 minutes of interpretation and the list goes on!
So when I stumbled upon this little gem of an article (courtesy of the AIIC), I knew I had to share it. Read it over and then print it out and save it for a rainy day…you never know when you’ll be stuck with a primadonna next and you can always pull it out and show it to him/her with a saccharine smile pasted on your face.
In the booth
- Remember that an interpreting booth is a confined space. Act accordingly;
- Keep the documents neat and orderly;
- Do not smoke;
- Switch off your mobile phone;
- Take care not to wear jewelry that can make noise, like wrist bangles;
- Agree on preferred seating and lighting arrangements with colleague(s);
- Turn volume down on your headset if you leave the booth;
- Keep quiet when not working (microphones pick up all background noise so do not shuffle papers, be careful when pouring water, do not eat or make other unpleasant noises);
- Talk into the microphone (some colleagues who regularly work for TV can offer precious advice). But don’t speak too close to the microphone as this will distort the sound;
- Check the team’s language combination and preset the relay switches;
- Make arrangements in relation to working time and changeovers and do not leave the booth when off mike unless it is necessary. Do not disappear for too long.
- Agree the length of your working stints as suits the meeting – but change over during a natural break in speech;
- Be prepared to help your colleague, but not intrusively. It is usually clear when someone needs help with finding a document or a new term;
- Make sure you know how to operate the equipment;
- Try to work with the headset volume low so you can modulate your voice and make sure you monitor what you say either uncovering one ear or leaving both half covered. Remember that adjusting the bass and treble can help as much as increasing volume;
- Get to the meeting on time; a good rule of thumb is to get there 30 minutes before it begins, at least on the first day;
- Introduce yourself to colleagues and the technician;
- Do not hesitate to help your colleagues on the team with difficult or obscure terms; they in turn will help you;
- Tell your colleagues if you’re a beginner; they will be supportive;
- It is bad manners to brandish your business card at a meeting you haven’t organized. Let the consultant interpreter/team leader do the PR work;
- Don’t be worried about not knowing something. Languages are difficult;
- Remember you’re part of a team, so be supportive of your colleagues;
- Don’t forget your spectacles
- Pens and pencils and pencil sharpener. Highlighter
- Wipes for cleaning the headset
- Bottle opener
- Throat sweets/voice tablets (avoiding crinkly paper)
- Paper clips/stapler
- Binoculars are useful in big conference centres where the interpreters are a very long way from the speakers and screen.
- Bring along a printed invoice in advance if you’ve been asked to. A scribbled bill on scrap paper looks unprofessional.
For a detailed guide of booth etiquette, you can also visit this link: http://aiic.net/page/1489
Interpreter Skill Map: http://www.nationalnetworkforinterpreting.ac.uk/tasks/int_skills/player.html
Training Resources: http://interpreters.free.fr/