Translation and interpretation are two very different skills. Of course interpretation includes the “translation” from one language into another, but there is a special feature to it: here translation is synonymous with transmitting a “message”. The conference interpreter sits in the front row of the event, he can perceive the intonation, the common thread of the speech, the emotions conveyed by voice, the mood, the tension, even the speaker's and the audience's relief, in a completely particular relationship. He has to store these fine details in no time to render the quintessence of the message to the audience who would not be able, without the help of an interpreter, to attend the event.
The interpreter works in a sound-proof booth which is located in such a way that it allows the interpreter to remain in eye contact with the speaker, whose speech is transmitted through headphones. The interpreter speaks at the same time, or with a slight lag after the speaker. The audience can follow the translated speech through separate earphones fitted to the tables in the conference room.
Consecutive interpreting is particularly recommended for communication in small groups. The interpreter is placed near the speakers and takes notes for the whole length of the talks. Then the interpreter renders the statements sequence by sequence.
Some advice to students wishing to become conference interpreters