- A nice, well-structured speech, on a well-known everyday topic
- A pretty long and pretty fast speaker with very clear elocution
- Excellent communication: the interpreter looks at the camera and only looks briefly at his notes to make sure he hasn’t forgotten anything important.
- Excellent pace which – as indicated in the feedback video– requires a lot of practice to be kept throughout a long speech/series of speeches.
Dear students, dear would be interpreters,
What lessons can you take home from this consecutive demonstration which you can use in your own practice with fellow students?
As a speaker:
First of all, write your speech the way you would take notes to interpret consecutively. This way, you will neither be tempted to read your speech out nor will you forget part of what you meant to say. Moreover, this will be an excellent way to practice your own note-taking technique and test the feasibility/level of difficulty of your speech
Second, look at your audience. Communicate. There again, practising being a good speaker will do a a lot to help you become a good interpreter.
As an interpreter,
- As you are probably aware, the way you take notes is personal, because the way your memory works is a very personal thing and your background knowledge is not the same as that of colleagues or fellow students. Let’s however see what we can learn from this demo in terms of note-taking technique.
- What to note: Ridesharing, traffic jams in large cities and Uber practices are familiar topics. You can easily rely on your memory if you listen to the speaker, note the key information and the links between the information or ideas expressed (i.e.. Information, data, argument, opinion). Beware: better writing too little but clearly than being incapable of reading back your notes because you have tried to “write everything” as the speaker was speaking at full speed.
- How much to note with what time lag: Do not write too much. Listen and keep up with the speaker so that when figures come up, you are ready to note them down as well as what they relate to which is just as essential as the figures themselves. Always remember: figures alone are of no use. They have to come together with units (is the speaker referring to millions or billions?) and objects (dollars or euros? sales or profit margin, etc).
- In what language: Notes can be taken in the source of language (time saved while you are noting and you have to deal with a fast speaker). They can also be taken in the target language with the advantage that you will already be processing the information and the way you are going to convey it which may in turn help you communicate in a more fluid manner when you move to the next stage, i.e. interpreting. The notes can also be taken in a combination of both source and target languages or even in a third language if it comes in handy to you or in a combination of the above + symbols (conventional and recurrent symbols as well as ad hoc symbols devised for the specific speech or topic of the conference you are working in – see comments made by both speaker and interpreter in the feedback video).
- Use of flexible arrows: as you can notice Michael Sommers uses arrows on a number of occasions. Those arrows are a time-saver. They make it possible to retrieve a word or a piece of information that has already been mentioned previously by the speaker without needing to write them down again.
- Use of margins: it is a point that is mentioned by Alexander Drechsel in the feedback video. Margins can be used to specify whose opinion is stated (“I”; “We”, etc). Margins can also be used to structure the information as you can see in the case of the 3 advantages of Ride Sharing Apps presented by the speaker and noted neatly and clearly by the interpreter in the left part of his pad, in a virtual margin : 1); 2); 3). Please observe that if Michael Somers uses virtual margins, his lines separating ideas are very real.
In conclusion, wonderful material to practice keeping in mind, inter alia, the few above guidelines. Over to you!
Analysis by Sarah Bordes, ISIT Academic Director, Conference Interpreting1