Getting a good recording for later audio transcription isn’t as simple as putting a recording device on the table and pressing the button. To get an accurate transcription, you have to capture people’s voices clearly and with a minimum of distortion or muting. People who are new to recording lectures, meetings and important phone calls are prone to making a few common mistakes. Learning to avoid these pitfalls makes transcribing your audio much easier.
Avoid Cutoff and Total Blanks
One of the most frustrating things that can happen after an important meeting is to pick up your recording device and find that it either didn’t record at all or it cut out in the middle of the talk. The most common reason this happens is that most recorders have limited battery power, and yours wasn’t charged. Obviously, no audio transcription can be done if the audio wasn’t recorded in the first place. Before the meeting or the phone call gets started, check your battery level and recording status. If you have any concerns about making through the whole meeting, find an outlet and plug in the recorder to ensure you have practically unlimited power.
Keep the Mic Clear
It sometimes happens that, hours or days after the event you’ve recorded, you go back to review the tape and find that you can’t understand a word that was spoken. Sometimes all you have is muffled voices and the sound of shifting paper or the low hum of dead air.
This is most common when something was blocking the microphone. Even worse than losing a whole meeting because of a mislaid stack of papers, sometimes the beginning of the meeting is clear as a bell, only for the most important details to be washed out because a latecomer set a briefcase between the recorder and the speaker.
To avoid this, keep an eye on your recorder throughout the meeting. Let everyone know that the proceedings will be recorded, point out the recorder and ask people not to go near it or block it in any way. Once the meeting is over, try to review the recording right away, and make sure the entire meeting was captured for later audio transcription.
Check the Position of the Recorder
You can do everything right with your audio recorder, then sit at the table and take only rudimentary notes in the firm knowledge that you’ll have an audio transcript to work from later, only to get a loud recording of squeaky chairs and a humming air conditioner with very faint voices in the background.
This most often happens when your recorder was in the wrong place. While it’s good to set the device away from where people are bound to make noise, the recorder is of no use if it’s too far away to capture what’s said. The only way around this is to experiment with placement. Show up early and put the recorder in a likely looking spot, then go to the front of the room and talk normally. Check whether the device picks you up loud and clear. If not, try another spot.
It takes a bit of work to get a good recording for your audio transcription. Keep the mic clear, experiment with placement and always check the batteries before you start to ensure your recordings are crisp and easy to hear. For more transcription tips and tricks, follow @Transcribecom on Twitter.