One of the most interesting jobs we get to do is transcription – that is, listening to audio and typing out what is being said. Why is it interesting? We learn a lot! We learn about different businesses, people, lifestyle. We get to hear about history and health and motivation and education and…the list goes on and on.
Transcription can also be difficult at times, due mainly to the quality of the recording. So, we wanted to give you five easy steps for ensuring that you’ll going to record a great interview that can be easily transcribed.
Use a quality recording device
Now, I cannot give specific recommendations about which device is better or worse. But I know that using your cell phone may not be the best way to capture audio. If you’re going to do a lot of interviews, you need something that will capture a lot of audio, clearly. And remember – it’s all digital now. Transcribers use a software called Express Scribe and they’ll need mp3 or mp4 formats from you.
Select a quiet space
This seems obvious, but we have received recordings in the past that were…noisy. One interview sounded like it was being done on a park bench, next to a road, next to a zoo by the monkey and parrot cages. (Seriously!) Do not interview people on the street, in restaurants, at bars, in cafeterias at work spaces. All of that extraneous noise is captured on your recorder and makes it extremely difficult to transcribe.
Find a quiet place. A small, windowless room is perfect. Large rooms have an enormous amount of echo, and where there are windows, they tend to be opened and traffic, dogs, and sirens are all strolling by. (Unless you’re a few floors up in an office building. Then windows are okay!)
Don’t speak over each other
We can’t discern what people are saying when five people all speak at the same time. Be mindful of your interviewee – make sure they’re done speaking. It’s okay to have a pause. If you’re interviewing a group of people, instruct everyone to speak one at a time. If you can break up a large group into a few smaller groups – even better. (Or have a talking stick on hand!)
Keep the noise down
If you place your recorder on the table, and then proceed to shuffle papers and flip through documents right next to it – we can’t hear people speaking. Also – don’t eat during interviews. Talking and chewing, cups and dishes clanging just don’t work.
Provide keywords and industry lingo
Chances are your transcriber probably doesn’t know everything about the industry you work in, and therefore may need assistance with things like city names, company names, and people’s names. Give them a list beforehand.
Remember, these are your interviews, with tons of pertinent information for your book, your research, your radio show. You don’t want to lose key pieces of information because of noise or quality issues. The better the audio quality, the better the written transcription will be, and the better your end project will be.