Preparing for an Assignment

Interpreters work well beyond the hours of the conference, or the event that they are interpreting for…indeed, a big part of the job is preparation.

Here are some of the documents that I always ask for before working on an interpreting assignment:

-Speaker bios (they usually have a lot of acronyms and dates, and they are almost always read word for word, thus making it harder to interpret). If I can have the bios ahead of time, I translate them and use them as a support in the booth.

-The electronic versions of the actual presentations (even if they are not the latest version). The electronic files enable me to follow along on my laptop if the font is too small or if I just cannot see the screen. I like having printed copies with me too so that I can write notes, and translations directly on them.

-The agenda (so you know which presentation will take place when).

-Any glossaries that they might have related to the topic (the client might have a mono-lingual glossary which you can then translate and incorporate into your own glossary).

It is also essential to let speakers know that their presentations will be interpreted. Often times, they will make an effort to be clearer if they know that they are being interpreted. To ensure the highest level of interpreting, speakers should try and be as clear as they can, avoid jargon, puns, sports references and acronyms if at all possible. They should also try and avoid reading their presentation word for word. It’s much easier to follow the thoughts of a person who is speaking naturally, also, reading tends to make people speak at a faster rate.

Sometimes speakers become overly aware of interpreters though and then think that they need to yell into the mic… It is up to us to ask the sound technician to train all speakers on how to hold the mic and ask them to speak in a normal speaking voice. It’s nice of them to make an effort to be nice and want to help us out…we appreciate the thought, but needless to say, these speakers just gives us a headache and makes our job even more difficult.

Some speakers have jumbled thoughts, they go from thought A to E and expect the audience to deduce thought B, C and D. These are also very hard to interpret. It is tough for us to make sense when they don’t make sense. But sadly there is not much we can do about these speakers. Some people are just better at public speaking than others. All we can do is try and prevent difficulties from arising by preparing as much as possible and providing them with our recommendations.

My colleague sent the following recommendations to the hiring agency requesting that it be sent to the client. I think that it is a brilliant idea as the information provided can help everyone do a better job ultimately resulting in better communication and overall understanding. Please feel free to share this list of recommendations with your own clients.

2 thoughts on “Preparing for an Assignment

    • It is challenging sometimes, that’s for sure. 🙂
      That is why preparation is so essential to our career.
      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

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