Do you remember the first time?
Thread poster: KKastenhuber

KKastenhuber  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:31
Russian to German
+ ...
Nov 3, 2012

Next week I will officially be working as an interpreter at an international meeting for the first time in my life. I have done my fair share of interpreting in more casual settings, I have received lots of material to familiarise myself with terminology, and I have a good friend who works as a professional interpreter and gives me good advice, but anyway I can't stop thinking about the "what-ifs". So I was wondering, does anybody here remember their very first official interpreting session? What was it like? Was there anything that went particularly good/bad? Any funny stories you might want to share? Anything I should watch out for?

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Eveline Quipipa-Dias  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:31
Member (2010)
English to German
+ ...
Do not dring milky coffee Nov 3, 2012


good luck for your first "real" job!!!!
Some mistakes I made the first couple of times:

- Being deterred by some false (or less than perfect) translations I heard myself make. Keep on going even if you notice your own mistakes. The worst is getting stuck with ones own insecurities and worries.
- Dare to omit! Sometimes, you have fast speakers who fire away as if their very lives depended on it, sometimes you have speakers who jump midsentence from one topic to the next. In such cases, it is much better to condense these thought-showers for the audience. Otherwise, you sound yourself like you are stuttering away.
- Do some PMR prior to the first start if you are the jittery type (like me). That will calm your nerves down.
- Last but not least! Never drink milky coffee right bevor it - or eat a banana. It clogs your voice and you start to clear your throat more often. Not a nice sound for the audience.

There are probably another hundred mistakes I made but those stuck with me and for years I am practicing to avoid them.

Warm regards, Eveline

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Chiara Cherubini  Identity Verified
Member (2010)
German to Italian
+ ...
Keep calm :-) Nov 3, 2012

I had to smile when I read your post because I still remember very well my first "real" interpreting job.. I think I barely slept for almost the whole week before and I kept on thinking of the worst possible scenarios I could find myself in.. So this is just normal The important thing is that you manage to stay calm when the job actually starts. And if you are well trained and well prepared you will surely manage to do that.

So I strongly encourage you to try to keep calm and enjoy this first experience!

Piece of advice: from your post I think this is going to be a consecutive assignment, so in this case: don´t be afraid to ask questions! If something is not clear, if you didn´t manage to write down an important number, ask to speaker to repeat. You shouldn´t do it all the time, but if the information in question is important, it is worth doing it.

Good luck!


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Tahira Rafiq  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:31
English to Urdu
+ ...
stay focused and relaxed Nov 3, 2012

Its quite natural to be a little nervous expecially when it is your first experience. I remember my first interpreting session during which speaker was too much fast and I got a little confused. She was delivering in paragraphs instead of sentences. The moment she finished her whole paragraph, I started interpreting her last sentences coz initial ones were almost forgotten. Anyways, I asked her once and then she got to understand the speed problem...lolz
My advise is to stay concentrated and dont be afraid to ask. Good luck.

[Edited at 2012-11-03 23:51 GMT]

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Ricardy Ricot  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:31
French to English
+ ...
Dive in Nov 4, 2012

Dive in. Don't be afraid of failures or mistakes. Face them. Accept them. Embrace them. They will make you stronger.

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Local time: 06:31
Keep calm and measured Nov 6, 2012

My advice would be: don't jump in too quickly. Listen to the sentence until you have understood the point before starting. It might feel like an unworldly amount of time is going by, but it's better to have a bit of dead air than to start a sentence you can't finish. Personally, as most speakers start with "Thankyou Mr Chairman" or similar platitude, I say this after a slight pause in order to give myself longer to hear the next sentence, and so the audience knows the system is working.
You'll make mistakes...don't worry too much.

Good luck!

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