This year on International Translation Day I want to share some professional advice: When preparing for an interpreting assignment, I write down any new vocabulary by hand. Why? A study published by Princeton University has shown that the best way to take notes is by hand to help you better understand and remember information. So it’s better to put pen to paper, rather than using your laptop, if you want to write down the key aspects of a lecture, for instance.
The study also showed that when using a keyboard you type significantly more words, but when taking notes by hand you have no choice but to engage with the information in order to summarise. Which also supports my thesis about the knot in the handkerchief: When I take notes in consecutive interpreting, I do not write down every word in shorthand, but I jot down a symbol, or a number as a memory aid.
Right before a simultaneous interpreting assignment starts, I also write my "cheat sheets" for the interpreting booth by hand and discreetly tape them to the windows. Most of the time I don't need them, but it's a good feeling to have recurring important terms, or the functions and names of speakers and institutions, right at hand.