What a couple of weeks these have been! I spent most of last week preparing for a conference, or a couple rather, in Spain where I was interpreting the main speaker in Madrid and Cordoba. Apart from the practical stuff that I needed to prepare, like suitcases and warn the kids that dad was going to be away for a few days and that they needed to help mum and so on and so forth, I also try to prepare, when possible, for the actual interpreting as well. This is done by reading a lot about the subject matter, if I know it, or something similar. This conference in particular was for pastors, ministers and church leaders and the suspected topic was leadership in the church (I was not able to find out more). So I tried to soak up on this topic and also did some of reading of the Gospels. When I can, I try to have a little chat with the speaker. This exercise is twofold. First, to find out about housekeeping rules, like whether has s/he worked with an interpreter before? If so, is there any particular preference they have, like having me to the right or to the left, levelled or do I need to be a step back from them. What is the topic and if they are going to use the bible, what passages, shall I read the passages in Spanish or do they prefer to read the passages first in English and then I repeat the text in Spanish… But the second reason to have this very important chat is to gauge the accent of the speaker. And to make sure that I understand it! There have been a couple of times when the accent was not as I am used to and have made a complete pig’s ear out of it! So the longer I can drag that little chat, the better. If they have not worked with an interpreter or not a lot, I need to make a mental note to manage the speed of the talk! Flexibility and communication with the speaker, anyway, is key to have a good day at work.
Next step, or another step I should say, is to speak to the sound engineer. I try to give very clear indications as to how I need the mix to go out, i.e., if the church or hall is big enough to have monitors, I request to have my voice cut off from the monitor and to have the speaker’s monitor on so that I can listen to what is being said properly and clearly. In my experience, most of the sound engineers do not get what I need and more often than not I end up clinging onto the speaker’s mouth to hear to and to read the body language. This seems to be specially the case when the engineers themselves are not used to this kind of set up. I guess I need to ask a sound engineer how to make that request. 😉
After all this is done, I try to focus. I try to remember microphone techniques so that my voice comes out well (although I need to find out a way to practice that), I try to relax and above all, to enjoy the experience. It never fails to be such an adrenaline rush and such a joy. And since I am getting more experienced at it, I enjoy it a lot more than when I started doing it.
I arrived in Madrid on Sunday and luckily enough, my parents live in Madrid so, I took them for lunch to a place they love and headed to visit a couple of friends. And on Monday morning it all started. The speaker was staying at my parents, so I have literally been talking nonstop for 4 days. On Wednesday morning we travelled to Cordoba for a meeting and Thursday morning we went back to Madrid for a final meeting at a Dominican church. This morning, my parents and I took the speaker to the airport and enjoyed the last couple of hours in beautiful Madrid. All in all it has been a really nice and productive trip. The speaker was a legend and his wisdom and flexible attitude have been a true inspiration, not just with regards to the talks, but generally as how to rapport with people and to look at the bigger picture. Here is his website John Morrow.
And before I forget, here goes the link to the translation I finished a week ago, which is already online.
As I write this, I am flying back home. I really miss Christina and the kids!