Technical equipment for interpreters
International conferences, important political occasions and other major events - hardly any of them would be possible without interpreters. However, organisers are often faced with a dilemma: on the one hand, all of the ongoing interpreting work should not be the focal point of these events, however, on the other hand the interpreting is the key to the event to running smoothly. Interpreters are also supposed to be in the middle of the action, making sure that they deliver the best possible interpreting quality, however, at the same time they are expected to do their job in such a way that makes them virtually invisible.
Achieving a balance between these requirements is not an easy task. However, various technical equipment can be of huge assistance. For example, the interpreter´s booth creates the best possible working environment for the interpreters at the centre of an event. Moreover, wireless conference systems allow a number of interpreters to work together, and audio guides can provide every single listener with a translation in his or her own native language.
The interpreting booths should be placed in such a way that allows the interpreters to overlook the discussions. Especially the presenter should be clearly visible. Portable booths are available in different sizes, with room for one, two or three interpreters. Important for a high-quality booth are not only ventilation and lighting, but also good soundproofing, providing an optimal acoustic environment for the interpreter.
Complex wireless conference systems can be installed to enable sound transmission between presenters, interpreters and listeners. These conference systems are responsible for transferring the interpretation to the right place - and to the right place only! Otherwise it would be impossible to hear a single word over the tangle of voices in a crowded conference environment.
Audio guides transmit the interpreter's voice to his or her listeners. The same technique is used for city tours and museum guides. It provides the addressed person with information, while other people around them are able to continue their own conversations without interruption.
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A good interpreter cannot perform properly without the help of adequate technology, and vice versa: less qualified interpreters won't get any better when surrounded by high-class equipment. When planning an event, these two aspects should be taken into particular consideration. Choose an excellent interpreter with perfect command of the language combination.
Furthermore, make sure your interpreters are familiar with the prospective conversation topics. This way, they will be able to deliver adequate and precise interpretations of even expert questions and the respective answers. Once you have found interpreters of whose training and additional qualifications you are convinced, you can then only make use of their full potential by providing them with a well-equipped work space. On the one hand, acoustic insulation protecting against any noise from the outside world is crucial, on the other hand your interpreters need to have a good overview of the ongoing discussions, despite their isolated position in the booth.
Cutting corners and saving expenses for technical equipment will put you at risk of a poor sound quality. The best technology will guarantee the best transmission, the fewest losses and, in the end, the best interpreting quality. Last but not least, make sure to grant your interpreters regular breaks! Conference interpreting and simultaneous interpreting in teams, in particular, require a high degree of concentration that will be exhausted after a while. Regular short breaks can have a huge positive effect on interpreters, audiences and speakers.
Some exercise and fresh air can make all the difference towards a more relaxed atmosphere. Keep in mind that it is mainly the interpreters who are the ones giving their best performance at meetings and conferences! They might have been the very heart and soul of many an event you have attended, even though you might not even have noticed them.
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