It’s Time to Change Preconceived Notions

On the last Sunday of August 2017, I watched the virtual presentations of the ConVTI Virtual Conference of Translators and Interpreters – an event that took place on August 26 and 27, 2017 and organized by two talented professionals, Giovanna (Gio) Lester and Márcia Nabrzecki. I cannot congratulate them enough for such an incredible and successful conference. The speakers presented an array of important and current topics for professional translators and interpreters who work in a variety of languages.

Although I mentioned the speakers, this article is about the lack of emphasis we usually give to issues that are often contrary to our reality, but which can greatly influence the activities we develop today and perhaps in the not-so-distant future. Here I’m referring to the need to change our preconceived ideas and open our minds to new ideas and skills.

To enlighten that concept, I mention Karen Borgenheimer’s presentation, “The Interpreter’s Voice: Tune-up Your Musical Instrument.”  I had no intention of watching it. First, I am not an interpreter and, second, I thought it would be a waste of time to watch a video when I was sure the speaker wouldn’t give me any new professional insight. I was completely wrong!

Sometimes, a specific topic does not grab our attention, either because we’re not familiar with it or because it’s not relevant to our current professional activities.  Moreover, we ask ourselves: “Why am I going to watch this presentation or read this article or attend this Webinar if the specific topic is not part of my job?” However, one never knows what the future really holds for us.

Karen’s presentation was not only for working interpreters or for those interested in projects related to that field. It was important for anyone who wants to improve their diction and empower (I like this term) their own voice. Being able to pronounce and articulate words correctly, keeping an appropriate rhythm and speed, and expressing themselves clearly is essential in this profession. The ability to communicate effectively is also important for translators who spend much of their time in front of the computer and who don’t use their voices on a professional basis.

Let’s imagine that you’re attending an event. Of course, this is an opportunity to meet new people, talk to colleagues with whom you usually exchange messages on your cell phone or social networks, or contact agencies to obtain opportunities for new projects or any other work that involves communication. It’s this precise moment when you need to present yourself clearly, with a beautiful voice, and make the other person feel empathy for you, and thus receive positive feedback.

Another example, you are not used to leaving your house to participate in outside events, but you are invited for an interview via Skype. Imagine that you are looking for new clients and one of them, perhaps even a manager of an agency asks you to hold a virtual interview. You’ll need to use your voice. Yes, there is nothing better than taking care of the poor girl and letting the nightingale start singing (However, be careful and do not get too excited …).

Also, imagine yourself in a situation where you were invited to give a speech on a topic which you have great technical knowledge, but no “stage presence.” This scenario may seem far from being a reality, but it could happen at any time. Why not get ready for that opportunity? Why not initiate specific training right now? Why not attend presentations like the one Karen gave at the ConVTI 2017 conference, where you can receive priceless advice and tips on how to use your own voice more effectively if necessary?

For me, “The Interpreter’s Voice: Tune-up Your Musical Instrument” was a pleasant surprise and an excellent learning experience. It taught me to never turn my back on the new, even if it is not part of my current situation. We should be visionaries and always open to new experiences.

I always finish my articles with a phrase to reflect upon, so, as Marxwell Maltz said: “Life is full of challenges. If we take advantage of them in a creative way, they turn into great opportunities.

By Ligia Ribeiro