A lot of congresses, meetings, training courses and other meetings are taking place digitally these days, in the form of online meetings and webinars. In addition, there are now also the so-called ‘hybrid’ events, which are organised partly on-site and partly online. Not to mention the ‘huddle rooms’ that herald a whole new way of meeting.
The good news is that digital solutions now also exist for multilingual online events and that interpreters can telework. As face-to-face meetings are kept to a minimum, conference interpreters are grateful to be able to use several professional online interpreting platforms, as it enables them to continue offering their customers ‘live’ simultaneous interpretation, albeit online.
Even when we can meet in-person again, ‘online’ meetings will possibly continue. It is likely that video conferencing and online content sharing will continue to be part of reality, especially as teleworking is being encouraged more than ever. Consequently, there will still be a future for digital interpreting platforms after the corona pandemic.
Hear, SEE and interpret
But it is precisely those ‘real’ encounters, the human contact with customers and colleagues, that are one of the main reasons why simultaneous interpreters have chosen their trade. It all comes down to this: interpreters want to ‘see’ people. After all, meeting speakers of different languages is their core business.
Moreover, interpreting is a team activity; conference interpreters always work in pairs or groups of three in an interpreting booth. As a team, they are completely dependent on each other and perfectly attuned to each other. Facial expressions, an inviting hand gesture or a quick wink often play an important role.
Visual contact with one’s boothmate is therefore no luxury, if only to take over the microphone from the colleague at the appropriate moment and in a natural way. It is precisely this crucial ‘handover’ moment that is proving to be a stumbling block on quite a few cloud-based interpreting platforms where interpreters can only hear each other through an audio channel and cannot see each other.
Unsurprisingly it is precisely that visual dimension that interpreters miss when they work from their offices at home ‘remotely’. They may work together in their virtual booth and may or may not be part of a larger interpreting team, but they do not have any visual contact with each other.
The current crisis has shown us how important direct visual contact is. ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone’, as the saying goes. Interpreters have missed that very thing, that visual contact, during their online assignments over recent months. When you are physically ‘alone’ in a room, but still need to be able to communicate effectively with your boothmate virtually, you notice how necessary it is to be able to ‘see’ your colleague(s) while interpreting. Visual communication is essential to bring the interpretation performance to a successful conclusion, both in terms of content and form, as a team, just like our customers are used to getting from us.
So it is high time for a new VIP formula for conference interpreters!
We are about to launch a new Video-based Interpreting Platform for conference interpreters who want to ‘see’ their boothmate and other colleagues on the team when interpreting online and dream of online interpreting without ‘handover issues’. It will be a fully equipped, cloud-based interpreting platform with a corresponding listening application.
The interpreting platform offers a professional interpreting environment to interpreters, a virtual ‘hub’, that comes as close as possible to the experience in a real interpreting booth. The application will also provide a lounge where interpreters can meet and have a chat during common and other breaks.
And it might sound trivial, but it certainly is not. Of course, the platform offers all the features of a professional interpreting console is expected to have: a microphone, a mute button, A- and B-language channels, a volume button, several relays, etc.
Curious? We will have more news soon. See you very soon!