On Interpreter's Preparation Work

It is not only interpreting... Working at a conference is just a tip of the iceberg of the assignment-related work. The biggest chunk of the job is preparation. Sometimes it takes weeks to prepare for a 2-days meeting.


The challenge (and the fun) of being an interpreter is to be able to get into the head of the people one is working for: be it politicians, pharmacology specialists, sports managers, chocolate producers, you name it!

My preparation work usually includes:

✅ Thorough research of the topic
✅ Creation of glossaries
✅ Learning terms by heart
✅ Getting the names and the functions of the speakers and participants
✅ Finding the speakers online, preferably on youtube and/or podcasts, so I can get used to their manner of speaking and accent
✅ If the assignment is taking place in a country I have never been to, I familiarise myself with this country’s culture and background, in order to anticipate any cultural references. This is really about getting into the heads of my clients.

As always, the list is not exhaustive. Sometimes my preparation includes: visiting a museum, an archive, even a brewery. I also watch relevant documentaries and, if time permits, the significant films.