Tag Archives: court interpreter

Announcement – 2013 Federal Court Interpreter Exam

 

A few months back, I received the great news that I had passed the Phase One (Written) portion of the Federal Court Interpreter Certification Exam. Since then, I have been compulsively checking the FCICE web page to see when registration will open for the Phase Two (Oral) Exam. Since the Phase Two exam is only offered in odd-numbered years (2013, 2015, 3001, etc.), I have been eager to set up my study timeline and meet this beast head on in 2013.

So I am thrilled to announce that the wait is over, as the FCICE has announced the registration period:

  • Registration Opens: Monday, March 25, 2013 8:30 A.M. ET
  • Registration Closes: Friday, May 17, 2013 at 5:00 P.M. ET

No word yet on actual exam dates, but I registered for the Phase One exam in May 2012 (got the last slot in the location most convenient to me, whew!) and all exams were administered within a short period in August 2012. It looks like this year’s timeline may be similar. More details at the FCICE site.

 

3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Speaking Voice

Have you ever felt a weakness in your throat after a day of presenting or a particularly stressful interpreting job? I’ve had this problem on many occasions, especially when I started out. My vocal cords simply weren’t used to speaking for hours on end under high stress, for example during simultaneous conference interpreting or hostile witness examinations.

Holly Behl & Karla Badillo interpreting for the International Baseball FederationMe and a fabulous interpreting partner, Karla Badillo, at the International Baseball Federation. A good partner eases stress and splitting the work prevents vocal strain.

For interpreters and anyone who makes presentations, your voice is part of your livelihood. So, protecting and improving it is a no-brains investment in your primary business asset—you. And vocal health is not just for interpreters. Translators who make sales presentations, speak with clients on the phone, or lead professional development events can also benefit. A pleasant speaking voice can even lead to a new income stream in thevoiceover market.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to develop a pleasant speaking voice. I’ve taken singing lessons and attended a workshop with a voiceover coach, but allow me to save you a few hundred dollars with three simple strategies for vocal improvement:

1.  Use better posture.

Sit or stand straight to improve clarity. Your instrument is an L-shaped tunnel (throat and mouth) and for the best sound, you want that tunnel to be as wide open as possible. I’ve seen interpreters hunched behind a defendant or leaning forward over their notes, which naturally compresses the throat and muffles articulation.

Try this:

Do interpretation exercises or practice your presentation while standing with your back against the wall. Notice how this body alignment feels and get used to speaking from this position.

2.  Breathe deeply.

Before my singing lessons, I honestly did not know what it feels like to have my lungs full of air. If your lungs are actually full, you feel the lungs pressing against the ribs in your back and down against your stomach. Untrained vocalists breathe shallow breaths, filling only the top half of the lungs. As a result, the vocal cords work harder than they would if there were proper breath support and fatigue faster. With proper breath support, your voice will sound fuller and more pleasant.

Try this:

Take a coffee stirrer (very narrow straw) in your mouth and inhale through it very slowly until you can no longer take in any more air. Hold the air for as long as you can, then remove the stirrer and exhale as slowly as you can (try counting to 10 for each stage). Do this exercise for 5 minutes a day to practice proper breathing and strengthen the muscles that control your lungs.

3. Care for your vocal instrument.

If you’ve read this far, you probably agree that vocal health is important. Consider choosing one or two of the following to protect and heal your vocal system:

  • Limit alcoholic, caffeinated, and carbonated drinks
  • Stop smoking
  • Keep your vocal cords lubricated with plenty of water (cool to warm is much better than icy or hot water)
  • Avoid coughing (yes, it really is possible!)
  • Avoid extended periods of whispering or shouting

Finally, remember to give your voice a rest whenever you start to note signs of vocal strain. Forcing yourself to speak in spite of warning signs like hoarseness or pain can result in polyps and permanent damage to the vocal cords.

These are the strategies that have helped me most. Do let me know if you try these and see any results, and feel free to add any of your own advice in the comments.

 

Presentations: 3 Things I Was Getting Wrong

Recently, I had a wonderful opportunity to hear Guy Kawasaki speak on Enchantment to a small group of about 200 people in Dallas, Texas. Guy is so good at getting people to listen, most famously during his time at Apple, that companies like GM send him products like Corvettes hoping he will put in a good word.

Movie theater lighting lights the audience, not the speaker, oops!Guy Kawasaki speaks at the Angelika Theater in Dallas

Click here for a full one-hour video of his Enchantment speech. The fact that Guy gives away the presentation and slides, yet people still pay him to fly in and speak for 30 minutes on the same topic, shows he really practices what he preaches about providing great content and getting people to like you.

During his live chat in Dallas he gave several of tips for presentations. But I also noticed his use of a few presentation techniques that he didn’t mention, but worked extraordinarily well.

What he said was:

  1. No more than 10 slides. Minimum font size is 30 points.
  2. No more than 20 minutes long and number your points so people know how close you are to the end.
  3. Customize the introduction to show that you know where you are. Here in Dallas, he showed up wearing ostrich cowboy boots and told us how much he loved them and would like to see the factory.

But I found a goldmine of subtler techniques underneath the other things he said:

  1. “What the hell does this picture mean?” Everyone knows that high-definition, striking images help people stay engaged and remember your message. But the relationship to your point doesn’t always have to be obvious; at one point Guy pointed to a bizarre image of pantomime artists and asked the question in everyone’s mind – “What the hell?” He made us look forward to his explanation.
  2. “My presentation is not displaying properly. I could go over and fix it right now, but I’m not going to.” I have to admit that I’ve put audiences or classes through those awkward moments that stretch on for eternity while I search for the video that was supposed to play but didn’t. Guy, on the other hand, made a Windows joke and told us what was supposed to be on screen. He didn’t lose the audience’s attention for one second. Total control.
  3. “I have tinnitis in my ear and it’s nearly impossible for me to hear you if there is a lot of other noise. I’m sorry if you try to talk to me and I don’t hear you.” This was Guy’s simple response when the event organizer wanted to cut short the Q&A to move everyone from the quiet theater to the bar area, per the event program. Guy didn’t ask for anything, show one ruffled feather, or create tension. Instead, he gave information and let the organizer decide whether to end the Q&A, knowing this was the last chance for attendees to talk to Guy. Of course, the organizer let the Q&A run over.

Thanks to Social Media Club of Dallas for giving me the chance to learn from watching a true influencer (rare thing indeed) in action.

Note: As part of my Paperless Interpreter experiment, I took handwritten notes for this post using a Bamboo stylus on an iPad 2, using the Notability app. Full report on that part of the experience in a future post.