UN interpreters always strive to support multilingualism and provide high quality services.
Clear and intelligible audio is essential if interpreters are to provide their service. The risk of disruptions in interpretation and of damage to the hearing and auditory health of interpreters increases whenever the audio quality is not compliant with the applicable (ISO) standards.
The best way of achieving the best possible audio quality is to observe the following requirements.
When taking the floor
Microphone and camera should be turned on only when taking the floor.
Papers should be kept away from the microphone while speaking to avoid rustling that drowns out the sound and that is very unpleasant for listeners.
Speak at a moderate pace; no more than 120 words per minute.
If reading from a statement etc., this should be provided in advance and the interpreters will check against delivery.
The microphone should be turned off at the conclusion of each statement, and remain muted, to avoid disrupting the meeting.
Use USB-connected, unidirectional, cardioid pattern desktop microphones, together with separate headphones. Headphones should not have an integrated microphone. Some examples of suitable models of microphone are available below. Avoid using earpod or earbud microphones (e.g. Apple earpods).
Built-in computer microphones must not be used.
Avoid using video-conferencing rooms that are equipped with omnidirectional, multi-party ‘spider’ microphones. Instead use a conference room equipped with unidirectional, gooseneck microphones (one per participant) similar to the meeting rooms in the Palais des Nations.
Position the microphone at a reasonable distance and speak directly into it.
Ensure that the platform has recognized the desktop microphone.
Connect to the meeting from a desktop or laptop computer, never a tablet or smartphone.
Make sure you use the platform-recommended browser and that said browser is fully updated.
Use an ethernet cable to ensure maximum stability.
In the absence of an ethernet cable, ensure your WiFi signal is excellent, moving closer to the modem if needed.
Minimum upload and download speed should be 10 Mbps. This can be measured on sites such as www.speedcheck.org, www.fast.com or www.speedtest.net
Participate from a small, quiet indoor room with the doors and windows closed and with all other sources of background noise and interference eliminated (turn off loud air conditioning, etc.). Avoid rooms with high ceilings, large windows, bare walls and/or tiled floors as these cause reverberation that distorts the sound.
All audible notifications and all applications on all devices should be turned off before the meeting starts.
Camera and image
Participants who wish to take the floor should have access to a camera, preferably an externally-connected one as that will usually ensure better quality than the computer-integrated webcam. Interpreters rely heavily on the facial expressions and body language of participants to do their job properly.
The camera should provide a clear, frontal view of the speaker, ideally from the shoulders up.
Avoid strong backlight, such as windows.