When organizing a conference or meeting that requires simultaneous interpreters, you may need to procure an interpreting booth (or several!). But if you’ve never worked with an interpreting booth before you may not know what to look for or which type best suits your needs.
There are basically two different types of interpreting booths you can use for your conference: tabletop interpreting booths and full-size interpreting booths. The functionality and setup for each differs and which one will be best for your event depends on the needs of your audience, the size of your venue, and your available resources.
Read on to learn about the differences and to ensure your conference’s interpreting proceeds smoothly, from setup to breakdown.
Tabletop Interpreting Booths
As their name suggests, tabletop booths are placed atop a table — any reasonably sturdy table will work. The interpreter sits at the table, with their upper body and interpreting equipment inside the booth.
However, the booth is not completely enclosed — it’s open in the back. Therefore it is not completely soundproof. On the upside, this also means it is small and easily transportable, and it can be set up and operated by a single person.
Set-up Requirements for Tabletop Booths
When you’re setting-up the venue for your conference, there are a number of factors to consider when deciding where to place your interpreter, including the size and operating requirements of your chosen interpreting booth.
Tabletop interpreting booths require minimal space and time for preparation — all you need is a sturdy table and a chair and you’re good to go. This makes tabletop booths ideal for smaller venues and venues where setup time may be a factor.
For example, if your time in a room is limited, you don’t want to spend most of it putting the interpreter’s booth together — not to mention dismantling it afterward.
Because they’re not totally soundproof, it’s a good idea to position tabletop booths with their back facing a wall or other area devoid of attendees. This will help prevent sound from the audience interfering with the interpretation and vice versa.
Full-Size Interpreting Booths
Full-size interpreting booths are standalone enclosures that come with the works: four walls, a floor, a ceiling, a door, and even a ventilation system.
Interpreter(s) sit inside the soundproof booth with their equipment for the duration of the conference. You’ll need to provide a table for the interpreters to sit at so make sure you keep a spare at the venue. It’s also usually recommended to have an audio technician available to assist with any technical issues that may arise.
At a minimum, full-size booths are big enough to fit a pair of interpreters, but larger booths can accommodate as many as four, if need be.
Because of their size, they require assembly by more than one person and are consequently harder to transport than tabletop booths.
Set-up Requirements for Full-Size Booths
Full-size interpretation booths need both space and time allocated for setup. The amount of room and time needed increases depending on how big a booth you select. As you might imagine, larger booths take more time to assemble.
Regardless of the booth’s actual dimensions, however, expect to allow about two hours for assembly and equipment testing.
A full-size interpretation booth should be positioned so that the interpreters have a good view of the speaker, but don’t obstruct the view of the audience. Ideally this would be at the back of the room, but if the size of your venue doesn’t allow this, you’ll need to give yourself extra prep time to arrange seating that accommodates the interpretation booth.
Whichever type of interpreting booth is employed, the same audio equipment will be used by the interpreter. So be sure to consider the differences between booths when deciding which one will best serve the needs of your conference.
And no matter which type of interpreting booth you use, or where you position it, be sure there’s an electrical outlet nearby! It’ll be hard for a conference interpreter to speak to your audience if the microphone doesn’t have any power.
We Can Help
Whether you already know which type of interpreting booth is right for your event or you need help selecting an interpreting booth, Accredited Language can help.
We offer a wide variety of audio equipment rentals and are available via email or phone to answer any of questions you may have. Additionally, our professional audio engineers are available to plan, install, maintain and operate interpretation equipment on-site.