Interpreting your virtual meeting

When we provide professional simultaneous translation remotely from our own office, you may think that this could be pretty convenient, as it saves a lot of trouble such as travel expenses and the like. But distance interpreting places enormous demands on both interpreters and technology. 

With simultaneous interpreting, two interpreters usually share a booth and take turns roughly every 30 minutes. In a virtual conference, however, we are located in our own offices with no eye contact whatsoever, let alone a notepad between us to help each other with names and numbers (or gestures).

The best option, of course, is to start a separate Zoom conference on a second device, to listen to our booth mate‘s rendition via a second set of earphones, support them by looking up the agenda and know when it‘s ideal to hand over the microphone. Depending on the Internet connection it‘s advisable, though, to disable the video function on the second device, meaning we cannot see them (or we do, on a very small iPhone or iPad screen).

Instead, we’ve come to like online tools that help us professionalise our virtual booth (yet we use them depending on the client’s data protection requirements, of course!).

An etherpad like MeetingWords or Google Docs helps us to communicate with our booth mates in real-time, so we can read what they write even before they’ve finished typing a word.ONLINE TIMER
An online timer for remote teams like Cuckoo Team helps with blind handovers as we’ll hear a ping in our ears when the agreed time is up (instead of gesturing or pointing towards each other). Then we‘ll know it‘s time to mute our mic and let our booth mate take over.

Also, an online dictionary like Linguee comes in handy in case we need to look up any last-minute vocabulary.

All these tools make simultaneous interpreting at virtual events possible, even in times of COVID-19 when not all participants can or want to attend physically. Yet it's not a replacement for an in-person event, as you might have guessed from this sneak peek into the virtual booth.