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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.