May 25, 2022

This section of the Transcription UK website is dedicated to both the learning and sharing of transcription tips. We hope you find them useful and look forward to hearing yours!

Recording Tip 7

Conduct introductions – ask each person present to identify themselves individually for the tape. Ask each participant to say their name, and information such as job title and their role (i.e. meeting manager etc). This will help the transcriber to ‘tune in’ to a particular voice, and may enhance the chances of recognising that voice later on in the recording. If the meeting involves many participants, perhaps ask each person to state their name every time they make a comment or acknowledge the comment by saying “thank you Steve”. If a person introduces themselves at the beginning, but then doesn’t say another word for some time, it is unlikely that the transcriber will be able to remember what that earlier voice sounded like or be able to identify its owner particularly if the voices/accents are similar. Please try to thank each participant by name after their contribution – this will give the transcriber clues as the meeting progresses.

Recording Tip 6

Ask everyone present to turn OFF all mobile phones. Text messages or voice mails emit a radio frequency which is inaudible to the human ear even when the phone is switched to silent, but the recording equipment will and does pick this up, and the resulting buzzing noise will drown out whatever is being said at the time. Turning mobile phones to ‘silent’ or ‘vibrate’ mode is not enough – they need to be turned off. If they are not, this will be the only sound the transcriber will hear.

Recording Tip 5

Brief the Participants – confirm the meeting is being recorded and that it may be/or will be transcribed at a future date. Please run through a few basic recording procedures when you begin recording, for example, you may want to prove that you did brief participants thoroughly or to record that they are aware that the meeting is being recorded. Also include the time and date and the purpose of the meeting (grievance hearing/appeal meeting etc).

Recording Tip 4

Minimise background noise wherever possible, whether this is the scraping of chairs, background chatter from the participants or other people in the vacinity, the pouring of drinks (especially iced) or noisy machinery such as air conditioning.  If possible, try not to conduct the meeting in an open/public area.

Recording Tip 3

Try to be as firm as possible – if you are chairing/hearing the meeting. As tempting as it may be to let the discussion ebb and flow and to interrupt as little as possible, it’s important to achieve a balance. People in meetings tend to talk over each other, often at a fast pace and particularly if they become emotive or angry about what they’re discussing. If this happens, remind/ask everyone to speak clearly and individually or they won’t be heard.  And don’t be afraid to ask participants to wait until no one else is speaking.

Recording Tip 2

Assist in clarification – if materials such as letters/ photographs etc. are being shown to participants, remember that they may need to be identified on the transcript. So it would be a good idea to say what the ‘IT’ is that’s being shown. You may remember what ‘IT’ is at the time but will you later on when it comes to analysing the transcript and how does the transcriber know or the reader of the transcript? And if participants just nod or shake their heads, please either ask them to say yes or no, or confirm verbally what they’ve done.

Recording Tip 1

Ensure that the participants can be heard. A participant who has a quiet voice or mumbles won’t be picked up by the recording equipment, however sophisticated it may be. If you can’t hear what’s being said, the chances are we can’t either on the finished recording. Although it may be difficult to interrupt or risk putting someone off, you have to be firm or you’ll lose valuable material. Invariably, people don’t realise they’re speaking softly – we rarely ‘hear’ our own voices. But most are happy to speak up if asked to do so but this has to be when appropriate. Either ask them to speak up and repeat, or where appropriate repeat/summarise anything that may not have been said clearly on their behalf (including mention of their name) and ask for acknowledgment that this was a correct interpretation etc.