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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Home / 2012 / March

How to Get the Best Audio Recordings from a Group Discussion

There are probably only a few other things that could be more annoying than receiving a fresh transcript that is laden with errors. While it is easy to point fingers at the transcriptionist or the agency, it is also important to remember that no matter how experienced she may be, a transcriptionist has to type really fast in order to keep up with the flow of ordinary conversation. That is because as human beings, we tend to talk really fast and the speed of conversation increases simultaneously when one is part of a group. In addition, there may be other minor hitches which interfere with the quality of work performed at the transcriptionist’s end. For example when the digital file is played back, she may find that there is more than one person speaking at a time, the words spoken by each person may not be clearly audible or every word is followed by a resounding echo.


In this two part article, we look at the important factors that should be kept in mind while recording a group discussion or while taking a focus group interview. Let’s take a look at a few of the points that slow down the pace of a transcriptionist’s job and which could have a major impact on the quality of the transcript itself:


  1.  Speech Clarity: If the speech is clear, a transcriptionist’s job becomes easier. On the other hand, accents and unclear speech could impact the transcript.
  2.  Speech Speed: Most people talk faster when they are in a group. While this may seem normal to them, it adds to a transcriptionist’s stress.
  3. Recording: Even the smallest background sound can distort speech. The manner in which the discussion is recorded and even the way each microphone is positioned is crucial.
  4. External Noise: If the recording is taking place in a setting with a noisy background such as in a restaurant or even in a room which facilitates echo, deciphering spoken matter becomes harder.
  5. Multiple Conversations: If more than one person talks at a given point of time, it becomes hard to understand what all the speakers are saying.
  6. Speech Interruptions: Human speech would be incomplete without sounds like ‘Hmm’, ‘Huh’ or ‘Er’ which do feature quite often when we talk.


These are just a few of the concerns that influence the final transcript itself, especially since a transcriptionist has to filter out such external factors in order to get to the crux of the discussion. Next week, we’ll take a look at a few tips that need to be kept in mind while recording a discussion so that the quality and essence of a transcript remains unaffected.

Interview with a Celeb? Read Our Tips!

We’re all familiar with the many do’s and don’ts of acing an interview but what if you are sitting on the other side of the table and conducting one?  Or what if you were interviewing a well-known personality for a news article or for some other high profile campaign? Contrary to beliefs, an interviewer needs to be just as set for the interview as the person who is being interviewed.  It takes more than a few sheets of ready questions on the part of the interviewer, to actually do justice to the entire interview process. Or else it is possible for the interviewer to end up with plenty of material that actually doesn’t make much sense or from which nothing further can be deduced. We take a look at the kind of ground work that an interviewer should ideally undertake before the actual interview takes place:

  1.  Getting Prepared – Basic preparation begins with:

–       Jotting down a few ideas about the topics to discuss.

–       Doing some homework with regard to the personality you are going to interview.

–       Reading up on the latest scoops, scandals or any other important news that you can use during the interview.

–       Making a rough draft of the questions that you plan to ask. This also helps you anticipate the possible answers you may hear during the interview

Interviewing a well-known personality is no small feat especially because in this age when public relations and the right marketing mean everything, even the smallest offbeat question can trigger off unwanted publicity. It is also not unusual for personalities to insist on reading the questions before they are actually answered or even handing out tailored answers to the interviewer before the interview begins


  1.  The Interview – Assuming that a timeframe has been decided for the interview, it makes every minute all the more valuable. Personalities meet many people every day but the key to getting a good interview is to ensure that they feel comfortable with you, even if it is for just a few minutes. Begin with a short introduction about yourself.  Making small talk about general issues, talking about common interests or even asking if you can make them more comfortable helps them to open up better to an interviewer. Giving them a brief idea about the kind of questions you intend to ask before the real interview is certain to relax them as well.

While taking the interview, utmost focus should be placed on reading their facial expressions and listening to their answers carefully. Just by doing so, an interviewer will be able to figure out which topics can be pursued further and which are best ignored. It is also important to speak slowly and clearly besides giving the other person time to think and respond. The best way to end such high profile interviews is by thanking the other person for the time they spent with you and wishing them all the best!

Helpful Tips for Conducting Successful Focus Group Interviews

Focus group interviews are an extremely helpful tool adopted by market research agencies all over the world. While the data that such group discussions give is often invaluable, sometimes such interviews could also lead to mayhem and add to the general confusion. Here we list down some useful tips which can help you get the best out of every focus group interview you host:


  1. Choose the right moderator for conducting any focus group interview. The role of a moderator should not just be about getting the best possible responses from participants, but he should also be able to keep the participants focused on the topic without going astray. Using appropriate external stimuli, ensuring smooth flow of conversation and even hiring the right participants are all part of a moderator’s job.
  2. The success of a focus group interview depends on the kind of people who are asked to be a part of the discussion.
  3. Besides ensuring that the participants are ideal for the discussion, it may make sense to either keep aside time exclusively for hiring the right participants or to get professional help in this regard. After all, no client wants to waste money on a focus group interview that does not yield any positive results.
  4. Although prior knowledge about the topic to be discussed or even about the product itself may be useful and enable a better group discussion among the participants, it should not be a pre-requisite with regard to participant selection. So don’t worry about having to deal with a mixed group because a good moderator will be able to draw out opinions and thoughts in an effective and productive manner.
  5. For a focus group interview to be judged as successful, it is important that the client stay aware of latest developments and proceedings while the discussions are taking place. That not only cuts down any wastage of time in getting the desired results but it also makes room for any last minute changes to the entire interview process too.
  6. A moderator should ensure that a full report is handed to the client within a maximum of 6 days from the day that the focus group interview is conducted. It is important that the report that is eventually given to the client is an unbiased and honest one with an accurate analysis made of the observations as well.