Lessons I Learned From BP17 Translation Conference For Freelance Translators

As you may know, last week I took part in a translation conference for freelance translators held in Budapest.

This was my first international conference, moreover, I was invited as a speaker. I was really excited about that and, at the same time, I felt so nervous that I could not sleep well during the last several days before the conference.

Eventually, it was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had! It relates not only to the conference and all awesome people I met there but to the city of Budapest itself.

Budapest is a magnificent location with vivid atmosphere, friendly people, gorgeous buildings in Pest side and lush vegetation on Buda hills.

I came to Budapest 5 days before the conference to look around the city and visit as many sights as possible.

Traveling around Budapest deserves a separate post. This one is about the conference, therefore let’s get back to the main topic.

Preconference Dinner

On May 4, the day before the conference, we had a welcome dinner at Anker Klub Restaurant in the very heart of Budapest near Deák Ferenc square — main transport hub of Budapest.

It was so unexpected when people from Facebook met me and said — “Hey, I know you! You are Simon from that group for translators!”

I had a strange feeling as if I knew them for many years and we are good friends already.

During the pre-conference dinner, we had a simple funny game to get acquainted with colleagues. We took random prices of paper with phrases written in different languages.

Our goal was to identify the language, the meaning of the phrase and find people with the same phrase written in another language. I had a phrase in Croatian — “Ne razumijem” — that means “I don’t understand”.

I was lucky enough as I could easily read and understand these two words. They sound very similar to an obsolete Russian phrase with the same meaning.

I moved across the tables trying to find my matches. This way I contacted almost 50 people by a modest computation.

Lessons 1: If you take part in the international conference try to use all networking opportunities and meet as many people as you can. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and make new friends. This is very important for freelance translators who work from home as we rarely appear in public.

First Day of the Translation Conference

The first day of the conference took place in a fabulous cinema theater — Urania. Interior decoration of the building represents a unique combination of Eastern Moorish and Venetian Gothic styles with royal gold and red color palette perfectly mixed on ornamental walls, archways, and halls.

On the first day of the conference, visitors could attend 13 TEDx-like sessions scheduled from 9:20 to 20:10.

Each session represented a 20-minute talk with visual presentation. This was the first time when this format was used at BPconf, but it turned out to be the most spectacular part of the conference.

All speakers prepared amazing presentations each of which covered topical questions.

For instance, FIT president Henry Liu touched upon the question about the future of translators with a number of good points related to machine translation and the importance of translation for the society in general.

Judy Jenner shared her experience related to client relations and the value we deliver with our translation services.

Dorota Pawlak covered one of my favorite topics — how blogging can help you attract more customers.

Paula Arturo shared valuable tips about the legal side of our work — translation contracts.

I also learned several interesting things from Oliver Lawrence who shared really good pieces of advice about the improvement of writing skills for translators.

Michael Farrell convinced us that CV is a wrong and even a harmful tool for freelancers.

Jonathan Downie, the last speaker of the first day, became the leading force in the conference with his absolutely awesome sketch about visibility for translators.

Konstantin Kisin — the master of ceremonies — deserves special gratitude for his sparkling jokes and unrivaled eloquence.

In fact, it is rather hard to cover everything from the first day in a single post.

You should have been there to absorb and digest the huge amount of information and I hope you will join the next BP Translation Conference in order not to miss such a wonderful opportunity.

Lesson 2: If you never took part in any translation conferences before (like me) you should definitely try to find some time and money to attended one. It was totally worth it.

Second Day of the Translation Conference

The second day with longer sessions took place at Hotel Aréna. There were 16 speakers and 17 sessions in three parallel tracks.

Therefore, participants had to choose which sessions are the most interesting for them. I chose three sessions:

  • Marek Buchtel — Latest developments in CAT tool features and services
  • Jonathan Hine — Don’t give your work away: how to price it
  • Ellen Singer — Ethics and integrity — best practice based on scenarios

My presentation

Being a speaker at a large international event was something new for me and I tried to do my best.

I wanted to share my own experience of local translation business development using modern online tools. I worked out a 37-slide presentation (you can download it here). During the preparation, 50 minutes were enough to cover all aspects.

However, I did not take into account that during the actual presentation some sections may take more time than during rehearsal.

Moreover, I included too much information. It was quite possible to communicate the same in a more ‘condensed’ manner omitting some redundant information.

Lesson 3: Be more specific about the topic of your presentation. Do not try to fit too many things into a single presentation. Time passes differently when you speak in public — mind the time allocated for the presentation.

Transport and Venues

We should give a credit to Csaba Bán — an administrator and the only man behind all BP17 Translation Conference arrangements, who selected wonderful venues starting from the welcome dinner and ending with accommodation for participants and the farewell dinner.

All of them were close enough to each other and it was really simple to find them in an unknown city.

Since I came to Budapest earlier than many other participants, I decided to explore the city from both ends.

I rented an apartment on “Pest” side for the first two days (all conference venues were in this part of the city) and another apartment for the remaining 4 days on Buda hills across the Danube river that is about 20 minutes from conference venues by bus.

I thought that it would be OK to get to the conference venues within 20 minutes but in fact, it was rather inconvenient and time-consuming. Therefore, here is another lesson:

Lesson 4: Choose a place to stay as close to the conference venue as possible. In this case you will be able to get into your room to change clothes or to take some rest before the next session without spending much time for relocation.

Conclusion

As I already mentioned, 2017 Translation Conference in Budapest was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had.

Such events prove that translators and interpreters are a large family that can make a difference.

All conference participants unanimously claimed that it was one of the best conferences for translators they took part in over the last several years.

Indeed, the unique atmosphere created by Csaba Bán was something really special that could hardly be achieved without true dedication and love for our profession.

Translation conferences like this make an invaluable contribution to the development of translation communities and cohesiveness of all translator and interpreters in a globalized world.

You should definitely take part in the next conference that is already contemplated by Csaba Bán.

This year there were circa 200 participants. Csaba mentioned that for the next conference we need to have at least 250 participants.

I think it will be as easy as ABC especially after the success of BP17.

About Simon Akhrameev

Hey, I’m Simon – Your Instructor. Working as an in-house and freelance translator for 9 years, I have developed a unique approach to freelance translation business and I would like to share what I’ve learned with you. All blog posts and courses presented on this website are based on experience gained over the years of freelancing. A set of skills and expertise obtained here will definitely help you to level-up your translation business.

  • Flavia Helena Luz Gomes

    What a great experience, Simon!

    • You should try it next year, @flavia_helena_luz_gomes:disqus 🙂

      • Flavia Helena Luz Gomes

        Will sure do! 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Natalia Malkova

    Thanks, Simon! Great article! ))

  • Adrien ARNAUD

    Now I want to go next year!

    • That’s why I wrote this post. I think many translators will gladly join the next conference after reading it 🙂

  • Sam Mouha

    Excellent narration of a great event. Thank you Simon.

  • Irene Anton

    Thanks Simon! Unfortunately I couldn’t go to Budapest, maybe next time.

    • Thanks for your comment, @ireneanton:disqus I hope you will be able to take part in the next conf 🙂