I cannot repeat it often enough: what do you do with a microphone? You speak into it – and that’s it!
Inspired by one of my most recent interpreting assignments I take the opportunity to reiterate my message on microphones.
The microphones used for simultaneous translation are very sensitive, which is a good thing. Microphones deliver the sound signal right into the interpreters’ ears, on the sound highway, as it were. However, some customers deem it necessary to try and knock in out with a blow or a punch, asking at the same time “Is this working?”
Can I just give you a hint? Next time you are through with this exercise, have a look at the interpreting booth. If the interpreters a) fell off their chairs or b) hold their heads and their faces are contorted with pain – then your mike was actually on.
My suggestion is as follows: the question “Is this working?” is more than sufficient. In 99,9% of all cases the microphone is switched on; believe me, I speak from painful experience. And interpreters will without fail react to that question with a friendly (and grateful) smile and a “thumbs up”.