|Inside the booth. Picture by Judy, 2014.|
- Go the extra mile. If you are the local interpreter and your booth partner is flying in from elsewhere, contact him/her and offer some advice and pointers. Traveling to a new city is stressful, and suggestions are always appreciated. We usually also ask if our booth partner has forgotten something at home that we can either easily bring (say, our own hair straightener) or pick up (think healthy food). We know what it's like to be stuck in a hotel without a car, working long days, and sometimes all you want is a carrot-ginger juice. And we can certainly grab that for our booth partner.
- Share information and glossaries. We recently heard from a lovely colleague that she routinely has to work with fellow interpreters who cover up their spreadsheets even inside the booth as to not share their information with their booth partner. This doesn't make any sense to us, as the booth is a team and you have to work together to have a good experience. Be sure to e-mail any glossaries to your booth partner ahead of time so you can share terminology and materials. Being prepared is in everyone's interest, and not sharing can backfire: if there are two women in the booth and one doesn't want to share notes, thus affecting the performance of the other, the entire booth will look bad. Attendees simply won't be able to distinguish who is speaking when, unless, of course, the team is made up by one male and one female interpreter, which is relatively rare.
- Share the space. Booths are small and crowded spaces, so make sure you stick to your side of the booth and leave plenty of room for your partner. If you are bringing snacks, share them with your partner. Don't wear too much perfume and be aware that everything you do in such a small space will affect your partner.
Choose your language. Photo by Judy, 2014.
- No goofing off. Conference interpreters usually work 20 minutes (or 30 minutes) each and then have the other person take over. However, when you microphone is not on, that doesn't mean you can leave the booth and take a break. You are the back-up, and you should be paying attention. A few weeks ago, Judy's lovely booth partner ran out of steam and they had to switch sooner than they thought -- good thing Judy had been paying attention! Another time, Judy muted her microphone to ask her booth partner: "What did he just say?" Turns out the speaker had said, "Dallas Cowboys," which for some reason Judy hadn't caught (it was completely out of context), but luckily, her booth partner had heard it.