The following is taken from p.340-341 of the excellent…

Conference Interpreting – A Complete Course by

Robin Setton and Andrew Dawrant

Guidelines for conference preparation

Event preparation:

> Identify the type of meeting (Gile 1989:10-11), its format and organization, from documents supplied and/or all other available sources. Try to get an overall picture of a large meeting, its `intertextuality’ (Luccarelli 2006).

Know the parties involved and their interests, anticipate their likely positions (and not just those at the meeting: if you are hired by a company in a certain industry for their meeting, make sure you know the names of their competitors and competitors’ products; or for a meeting on famine relief, the main NGOs active in that area and the countries and regions affected).

Search for recent news stories relating to the meeting’s subject matter and parties con­cerned: be up to speed on the state of play, right up to the day of the meeting.

Search for recent speeches and articles by the main players.

Prepare materials provided by the organizer thoroughly, of course, but never assume that they are enough.

Topic preparation:

Get the big picture and the essentials clear first. If you have no background in the topic area, start with e.g. For Dummies titles, How Things Work, online primers, Wikipedia entries, etc. to hang things on;

Be curious about everything. Interest comes with discovery as ‘appetite comes with eating’ and helps to learn better.

Start with material in your A language for a quicker introduction to an unfamiliar domain.

Select a few quality sources (texts) instead of browsing at random: your online search will probably yield thousands of results that are not ordered by clarity, relevance, acces­sibility or level of detail. Time selecting a few quality sources at this stage is well spent.

Don’t ignore existing ready-made sources of bilingual (or multilingual) terminology such as topical glossaries (online or in books — sometimes in an appendix to a subject matter book), thematic visual encyclopaedias, perhaps even LSP textbooks.

Don’t confuse terminology with knowledge. ‘Don’t be the interpreter who knows how to say everything but not what it means. For example, to render a speech on Veleveraging’ in another language, you need to know what leverage is to begin with. What is it for? How is it calculated? Is it good or bad? What exactly does deleverag­ing mean? Who needs to do it and how exactly? By how much? Is it easy/hard to do? What will be the consequences? etc. Thus, when the instructor asks ‘what is dele­veraging?, the student who just says ’44_1_4f-ft:, ‘clesapalancamiento, or whatever, is giving the wrong answer.

Make a good glossary that is logically sorted by section/subtopic, and alphabetically. Memorize it and use it to test yourself repeatedly: practice spitting out technical terms quickly, going backwards and forwards through the glossary covering up one column, and going and from one language to the other and then back again.

Once you are familiar with the domain and have prepared and memorized a good glos­sary, do a lot of sight translation on the relevant texts you have acquired to further grease the groove:

Learn to use technology for managing documents, knowledge, terms. Documents are now instantly available, can be marked up, and offer full-text search over the cloud; and specialized terminology software is available for interpreters.

Last-minute, on-site, during and after the meeting:

Ask for briefings Where possible: but prepare thoroughly first, then maximize the value of the briefing session by asking questions and requesting additional information.

Attend rehearsals or dry runs of the event to hear speakers practising.

Check for last-minute agenda/schedule changes and organize documents (Lucarelli 2006).

    >  Pay attention to the issues and terms that come up at the meeting, research them in real time as necessary, and update your glossary throughout the meeting. Afterwards, save it for re-use, and continue to update it over time when you do meetings on the same topic.