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How to get high quality and accurate transcripts

transcriptionOn average, we speak about 150 to 170 words per minute, which, let’s just say, is hard to keep track of unless you have some serious note-taking skills. But the downside to only taking notes is that you’re not fully participating in a meeting, lecture, or interview.

This is why professionals across industries are opting to transcribe business meetings, lectures, witness interviews, depositions, and even e-learning videos and podcasts for a ready text reckoner. As a result, the transcription industry, a part of the speech recognition market, is estimated to grow three times between 2015 and 2022. And why not?

As a lawyer, you can choose to get your field notes transcribed by a reliable transcription company and spend the majority of your time building a stronger case. As a millennial entrepreneur, transcripts of your online videos can amp up your SEO and connect you to a larger user base.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s see how you can get high quality and accurate transcripts for your business.

Review audio quality

Like translation, where an unclear source can cause ambiguities in the target language output, transcription relies heavily on the quality of the source material. So, before you submit an audio (or video) clip for transcription, it’s important to review the audio quality.

Some aspects that may lead to unclear audio are background noise and overlapping conversation. An unclear recording can also be caused if the microphone is out of range, leading the captured audio to be muted and inaudible. So, if the recording environment is under your control (unless we’re talking transcripts of wiretaps), you can follow these tips to get pristine audio for your transcripts.

Record in a stable environment

Ideally, opt for recording in an environment with the least intrusion of background noise. Move away from a busy place like a street-view seat if you’re recording outdoors or alert others that a recording is in progress if you’re recording indoors. This way you rule out sudden and intrusive noises that can affect the quality of your recording.

Choose the right microphone

If your sphere of work revolves mostly around interviewing small groups of people or an individual (such as witness interviews), opt for a unidirectional microphone that can channel and record sound coming from one direction. However, if you’re planning to record something like a lecture or seminar, opt for an omnidirectional microphone.

Opt for a realistic turnaround time

Faster isn’t always better, especially if you’re talking about the outcome of a highly technical activity such as transcription. On average, 1 hour of audio takes about 6-8 hours to be accurately transcribed.

Besides, any reliable transcription company requires at least two experienced transcribers to check against the source and proofread the transcript as well as pass it through a third round of robust quality check to ensure >99% accuracy. Sure, an automatic transcript or speech recognition software can also provide a transcript, but the accuracy of the output would be in the ballpark of 60%-80%. Other factors that drive up transcription turnaround time are audio quality, technical jargon, verbatim transcription, or heavy accents. Moreover, with specialized transcription like legal or medical transcription, subject matter specialists also need to glance at the output to ensure complete accuracy.

Essentially, when you’re asking for a shorter than normal turnaround time, you’re asking your transcription providers to skip at least a couple of these steps, thereby compromising the quality of the output.

It’s important to know what you want

When you buy a new phone, we’re sure you do as much research as possible (including watching one too many drop-test videos) so that you’re not disappointed in the end.

For starters, if you want accurate and high-quality transcripts, you need to know what kind can help you be more productive. This means knowing whether you want a verbatim transcript or a general one, or whether you need time stamps on your transcript or you can do without them.

At the end of the day, this helps you nip potential expectation mismatch in the bud.

Choose the best transcription partner by asking the right questions

This also goes a long way to make sure you’re getting the most out of a paying service. After all, you’re opting for a technical service to make your life easier.

There are several things to consider before you zero-in on your perfect transcription partner, and for starters, you need to start asking them the right questions. For example, how do they ensure complete confidentiality during the transcription process, where do your files go once the transcript has been delivered to you, or whether they have subject matter specialists on board? Also, you may need to know how their transcription workflow works along with their typical turnaround time and pricing model.

Keep communication open

Professional transcription providers are great at creating a detailed project brief the first time round. However, additional queries regarding your project may crop up when the transcription is underway. A great way to ensure you receive an accurate transcript, in the end, is to keep communication open and free. This makes it easier for your transcription company to reach out to you and get their doubts clarified instead of winging it, breaching the deadline, or delivering an inaccurate transcript.