Three steps to go for a professional note taking technique

On the way to a well working note taking technique, the first step is really the most important one. It is about learning to comprehend what has been uttered in the speech, to filter the essence and to build a structure in the mind. This sounds as being too much at once, but is virtually the foundation of any interpreting technique. Many interpreters with some experience or a university degree in interpreting accomplish this first step with ease or perform this with ease, anyway.

Step Two

In the second step, the outer structure of the notes is conceived; i.e. the division of the writing pad, the skilful arrangement of unities of meaning and the tricks that allow recognizing the notes offhand when it is the interpreter’s turn.

This also includes getting a right feeling for the most appropriate way of holding the pad in the hands. This sounds commonplace, but it is not, by no means indeed: When we do consecutive interpreting, we often stand upright. We must keep the pad in our hands, take the notes, scroll through the pages, and finally find the beginning again and handle the pad in a way that does not make the audience look at you and wait for you until you have finally scrolled down to the next page.

Step Three

The third step is about applying the “inner” structure of the notes taken. What are the concepts that occur quite often and what is the best way to get them down to just one or very few symbols? Steadily reiterated utterances such as “Welcome, good afternoon, dear ladies and gentlemen” or “I wish you an exciting and successful event” can be noted down by just one symbol. 

What is important then, is: Training, training, training. Once you have conceived and internalized all the theoretical aspects and elements, it will take a while until they can be applied and practised quite automatically.