Tuesday, 22 October 2019 15:33

Reflections on METM19

Written by Jenny Zonneveld

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The MET Conferences have become a recurring autumn event in my calendar. A few years ago, when I was part of the organizing team for the first SENSE conference, held in 2015, fellow SENSE, MET and ITI member Joy Burrough-Boenisch suggested I might like to attend a MET conference. ‘It would be a fun experience’, she said, adding that I could find out first-hand what makes a good conference! So, in October 2016 I set off to Tarragona, south of Barcelona in Spain for my first METM. It was my first business trip abroad since becoming a freelance language professional. I’ve not missed a MET conference since.

As delegates must travel from far and wide to attend, MET does its utmost to keep costs down and ensure that their conference is affordable for all. The edition in Split, Croatia was no exception and this year even the workshops were not included in the conference price so delegates could really pick and choose. Needless to say, many of the pre-conference workshops were sold out within a few days, even the one I was giving on Word skills for translators and editors.

There is always something for everyone at a MET conference: workshops, plenary speakers, panel discussions and ‘regular’ presentations in two or three tracks. I like the pick-and-mix of a varied programme; within the comfort of the conference there are sessions to take you way outside your comfort zone. And it’s at these sessions I’m always pleasantly surprised by the gems of wisdom and tips that are there for me to grasp. 

A METM would not be complete without the off-conference activities. There’s always drinks for early arrivals on the Wednesday evening and a social activity on Thursday morning before the workshops start. This year it was a guided tour of the splendid old town of Split comprising of the 4th Century Diocletian's Palace and historical centre, all of which is an amazing UNESCO world heritage site. And I should not forget to mention the off-MET meal groups, which are an excellent opportunity to get to know your fellow conference delegates. Because these are so popular, and the MET organizers only allow you to sign up for either Thursday evening or Friday lunch time, and I didn’t want to be without company for a meal, I volunteered to host a lunch – our topic for discussion was ‘Feedback is a two-way street’. The time passed by quickly and before we had exhausted the topic it was time to return to the conference venue.

MET conferences are an excellent opportunity for networking and while in Split I spent time with some of my SENSE colleagues who I hardly see in the Netherlands. It’s also a great time for meeting colleagues and making new friends from other countries and organizations. During the Saturday buffet lunch we had arranged to meet up with our sister-society committee colleagues from ITI, NEaT and of course MET. We had a productive ‘huddle’ and agreed to collaborate more closely, particularly to share our efforts and to establish a WhatsApp group to encourage sisterly communication!

There were three sessions at METM19 that I found particularly interesting. First, the workshop memoQ: the secrets of a flexible CAT tool revealed given by Juliet Macan. She set out to show us a path through the jungle of tools available to the translator and the myriad of features and settings in memoQ in particular. The combination of theory and practical exercises gave me the extra boost I needed to be confident about using memoQ more frequently.

Second, the session given by Maeva Cifuentes entitled Content marketing 101 for translators. Maeva has spoken on marketing at several conferences I’ve been to and because I have more work than I can cope with already, I’m not intending to start a blog to promote my own business, but I did want to hear what she had to say and now I have a little more understanding of what some of my clients want to achieve with their articles and blogs.

Besides the two keynote speakers, who this year were excellent, the third memorable session for me was that given almost at the end of the conference by SENSE and ITI colleague Lloyd Bingham on Translating pseudo-English. Now, this is something I come across every day in my Dutch texts and everywhere around me in the Netherlands. Thanks to Lloyd’s entertaining talk, I’m now more aware of pseudo-English and how to deal with it.

I came away from METM19 in Split with a post-conference buzz, with a high level of adrenaline generated by a few days of intensive networking and CPD absorption, and of course the wonderful weather and magnificent location. It’s an addictive feeling, partly fuelled by my desire to give something back to the professional organizations that have helped me develop as a freelance language professional – so it’s quite likely I’ll be attending, presenting and helping at future conferences, whichever society is the host.

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