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Best Practices for Quality Transcription Results

Publisher: Transcription Outsourcing LLC
Author: Ben Walker

Transcription services are a necessary tool for most companies at one time or another.

Transcripts can take three to four times the length of a recording to complete by a trained transcriptionist. Noting the time it takes a trained professional to transcribe a recording, and assuming an untrained employee would require even longer to complete the same task, we recommend companies outsource transcription services so employees can focus on achieving core business goals.  The accuracy of a transcript is directly related to the quality of the original recording. In order to ensure you receive the most accurate transcript of your audio file, it is important to adhere to the following best practices when creating a recording.

For standard audio recordings and conference calls:

  • Take note that all background noises can affect the quality of a recording. Paper shuffling, typing, coughing, heavy breathing and eating noises may be magnified when recorded for transcription services and as a result, the clarity of the recording may decrease. Remind each participant to keep these extraneous noises to a minimum.
  • For phone calls, use a telephone handset or headset when possible. Speaker phones will pick up all peripheral noise and voices in a room, which can affect the quality of a recording. If there are multiple people participating on the call, ask each to call in on their individual handset to increase quality and volume of voices for the recording.
  • When using a speaker phone, be sure each person who will be adding to the auditory file is close enough to the microphone so that their voice is captured clearly and accurately. Participants who are several feet from the microphone may not be loud enough to record and thus may not be accurately transcribed.
  • Notify each person who will participate on the call that the discussion will be recorded. Encourage people to minimize small talk and side conversations so that your transcript is concise and to the point.
  • Remind participants to identify themselves each time they speak. Though you may easily recognize your coworkers’ different voices, a transcriber is not familiar and identification of each individual will help with both the accuracy and speed of your transcript.
  • For video recordings, be sure each speaker in the video has a microphone or is in close range of the recording device.

General Tips:

  • Ask for a sound check before you begin recording. On conference calls, you may ask the operator/host or other participants to verify volume is high and voices are clear.  Try to adjust your sound quality before you begin recording the conversation.
  • Assist your transcriber by providing a countdown before you wish them to begin. For example, you might say: “Recording beginning in 5,4,3,2,1…Hello.”  An intro signal will help the transcriber know to discount any superfluous conversations at the beginning of the recording.
  • Before the recording begins, remind participants to avoid interrupting each other or speaking over each other. Though a few interruptions are inevitable, you can greatly reduce them by reminding each participant that the conversation will be recorded and interruptions will reduce the quality of the recording.
  • Use complete sentences, proper grammar, and avoid fillers. In vernacular conversations, we often find ourselves saying “uh,” “um,” and “like.”  Try to avoid these space filling words when recording.

Utilizing the aforementioned best practices will bolster the accuracy of the transcript. These practices will also likely reduce the cost of your transcription as it will help facilitate the process for the transcriber and reduce the number of hours required to accurately record the conversation. Simple reminders for participants on the importance of speaking clearly, avoiding interrupting other contributors, and using good equipment in a controlled environment will help ensure you receive accurate transcripts of conference calls and recorded meetings for future reference or filings.

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