If you own a phone or pretty much any other digital device, chances are you’ve already been introduced to the art of transcription. Transcription services are used everywhere around us, from our phone’s speech-to-text services to the subtitles on movies. But its uses can be much more professional than just entertainment; it’s used by language learners in their classes, by hired transcribers in courts, by journalists for oral interviews, and even by researchers who need written documentation of interviews or focus groups.
So, whether you’re a journalist attending a conference that’ll decide the future of the world, simply a tourist taking French classes in Brisbane, or just a transcriber creating the captions for the most recent chick flick, polishing your transcription skills will benefit you greatly. Below we’ve discussed some tips you can use to achieve this:
First and foremost, the basics. To be the best, you need the best, so don’t be afraid to invest money to get yourself the right pair of headphones or speakers, and then a software that assists you. You can find video software that makes the navigation of videos easier so that rewinding to listen to that word you missed is a less frustrating task. Besides this, you can also buy hardware such as foot pedals, which will make the task of controlling the audio/video files much simpler.
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Transcription isn’t a job that can be done when your typing skills are rusty. Slow typing just won’t work here, you’ll end up spending several hours over a task you could have done in one hour or less. So, it's very important to practice typing fast to ensure you get done early and have enough time to review your work. But it’s also vital to ensure that you only type as fast as you can type accurately. Having to go back to make corrections slows you down drastically.
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Find the right workstation, clear your workspace, get snacks beforehand if you like to munch while working, and then get to work! While working, a lot of us don’t pay attention to the chair we sit in, the height of the table, or the lighting in the room, even though all these details are important, to ensure we don’t tire before the job is done.
It might seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised (we were) by how many transcribers don’t take the time to ensure their place of work is free of all distractions. These distractions aren’t necessarily always people, sometimes even the noise of an AC running or the sounds from the street will compete for the attention of the transcriber and need to be ad before the assignment is begun.
Always ensure that the files (if any) that you’ve been given are of good enough quality and all speakers are distinguishable. If not, it's best to request a more refined version of the file or to review what you’re getting out of this job and see if it’s worth the amount of effort you’re about to put in.
Having to go back over and over again to merely correct spelling mistakes adds to your already immense task, it makes much more sense to leave that to a software already in the market specifically made for that. But remember to go revise the document once you’re done to ensure that all the words have been corrected to the right form and make sense in the context.
As mentioned above, it’s better to allow yourself enough time rather than rushing and having to type the same thing ten times. You can get a rough estimate of how long you will need by either researching it online or timing yourself for a short section and then comparing the time it took to the remaining audio. Even expert transcriptionists take, on average three to four hours for a one-hour recording.
There are several rules one can follow besides these to make the process of transcribing more pleasant and more enjoyable.
Besides these there are several other rules one can follow to make the process of transcribing more pleasant. Staying engaged, for example; ensuring that you’re invested 100% into the task at hand. Another is, not omitting sections of files unless specifically instructed to do so. If a portion of the file is inaudible, just try to make sense of the sentence and improvise. But most importantly, at the end of the day, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you will lose interest and it’ll become a chore.