Well, not exactly. As most of my colleagues will confirm, booth situations can vary greatly from one event to another. In my personal opinion, built-in booths are the best. Working at the offices of EU agencies or Dutch ministries for example, is a delight. The booths are large, with ample space for your bag, coat, computer, tea and coffee jugs, cups, pen and paper and the (sometimes large stacks of) documents, presentations, slides, etc. These booths have a view of the meeting room and a screen inside the booth for a better view of the speaker.
However, there are many situations in which a booth is not as spacious and comfortably situated as in the cases above. Last year, for example, we had to interpret in booths that had been set up in the loading dock below the Muziekgebouw aan het IJ (music hall in the center of Amsterdam). Not only was it freezing cold (so much so that we had to wear our winter coats inside the booth!), but it was also almost impossible to interpret because of noise of trucks being loaded and unloaded (see picture) and the fact that until a few minutes before the event started, no one had even thought about putting up a screen so that we could at least see the speakers… Fortunately, one of the catering guys from upstairs was sweet enough to bring us lots of tea and coffee to keep warm, but this was definitely a ‘never again’ situation for all of us :-).
A few months ago, my colleagues and I found ourselves literally tucked away in the back of a room full of equipment, cables, boxes, etc. at yet another conference where the booths were not in the same room as the conference itself. It was a typical ‘find the booth’ situation (see below). Fortunately, this time there were screens. The only problem was that once the event had started, all the lights in the ‘back area’, as they called it, had to be dimmed. Which meant that it was almost impossible to leave the booth (to go to the toilet, for example), because you would immediately trip over something.
Actually, apart from built-in booths, the best setup is usually found at EWC (European Works Council) meetings, because the booths are usually placed around the meeting table, so you can have eye contact with the delegates. That is nice because many of us interpret for the same clients every year, which means that you get to know the delegates, and they usually like the fact that they can actually see the person who’s talking in their ear ;-). Depending on the number of languages used, a meeting usually looks like this:
Okay, that’s it for the booth stories. Until next time!