How Do You Write An Interview Transcript Quickly? 6 Techniques To Make Transcription A Breeze

March 31, 2023

How Do You Write An Interview Transcript Quickly? 6 Techniques To Make Transcription A Breeze

Integrating interview transcriptions in your research can have substantial benefits for your data gathering and analysis. Just one problem: it takes too long to do, and it can interrupt your workflow.

So how do you write an interview transcript without affecting your productivity? By employing the right techniques.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is An Interview Transcript?

An interview transcript is a written document that contains the conversation between two or more speakers. It’s the result of a process called transcription which involves typing down the dialogue in an audio or video recording.

Typically, transcripts have the following features:

  • Speaker labels - Associate the dialogue with their corresponding speaker. It can also be used to mask the speaker’s identities to protect their privacy or minimize bias
  • Timestamps - Pinpoints at which time within the audio recording the dialogue is spoken
  • Markers - Indicate necessary omissions or unintelligible parts of the audio. Usually, it comes in the form of ellipses, sometimes enclosed in brackets (e.g., [....])

Interview transcripts have numerous benefits to research, such as enhanced data gathering and analysis, improved accessibility, and more streamlined group collaboration.

For instance, a 2021 study on language barriers found that 54% of 2,146 respondents experienced language barriers in the workplace which hindered team productivity. Interview transcriptions can help by being reliable reference materials for non-native English-speaking colleagues who want to contribute to a research project.

Why Is Transcribing Interviews So Hard?

Transcribing interviews is very resource-intensive. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Transcription consumes a large amount of time. A 1-hour audio recording can take at least a few hours to fully transcribe
  2. It can take up a lot of your energy. Transcription requires a lot of listening and focus, which can drain your energy over time
  3. Transcribing requires skill and experience. Formatting, typing speed, and listening skills are some of the many factors involved in effective transcriptions

Nevertheless, interview transcriptions can greatly enhance your research process and streamline your workflow if done properly.

How To Write An Interview Transcript Faster With 6 Techniques

Constant practice and exposure to interview transcriptions are vital for you to develop transcription speed. But if you want to become even faster, you need to use different techniques.

Here are 6 techniques that can help you transcribe faster:

1. Listen To The Audio/Video Recording In Advance

It can be challenging to transcribe audio that you’re hearing the first time. You’ll most likely rewind the audio several times in the first draft due to transcription challenges like:

  • Bad audio quality
  • Heavy accents
  • Crosstalk
  • Background noise

You can greatly expedite this process by listening to the audio recording before transcribing it. This lets you familiarize yourself with the audio and identify audio complications so you can anticipate them during transcription.

2. Familiarize Yourself With The Subject Matter

The interview may mention complex jargon or terminologies that can be difficult to understand. If you’re unfamiliar with the topics of the interview, this can be a significant obstacle that hinders your transcription.

Avoid this issue by studying the subject matter of the interview. Not only does it let you transcribe a particular interview more quickly — it also prepares you for future interview recordings that you will transcribe.

3. Collaborate With The Interviewer

There is no better person who understands the interview than the interviewer himself. If you’re able to reach out to the interviewer, you can ask them to help proof your interview transcription.

This is especially useful when the discussion involves sophisticated terminologies that you may not have access to with your current resources.

4. Make Your First Draft Without Rewinding The Audio

When you first start transcribing interviews, rewinding the audio recording is a habit that you will develop. This is one of the factors that make transcription a time-consuming process. It’s natural to repeatedly rewind the audio because you want to finish the transcription task right away.

As an alternative, consider making your first transcript draft without ever rewinding the audio. This will result in a very rough draft that you’ll need to edit thoroughly. 

5. Play The Audio At A Slow Speed

Listening to the audio at a slow playback speed sounds counterintuitive since you want to finish transcribing in the fastest time possible. On the contrary, this is a very effective way of making transcription faster by reducing the number of times you need to rewind the audio.

By hearing the conversation at a slower time, you can more easily understand the discussion. This is especially if the flow of the interview is fast or abrupt.

6. Ask A Colleague To Transcribe The Audio With You

In general, transcription work can be divided into two steps:

  1. Creating the first transcript draft
  2. Editing the draft to remove spelling and grammar errors

Typically, you’ll do step 1 and repeat step 2 until the transcript is error-free — but have you considered doing both steps at the same time?

You can do this by asking a colleague to join you in the transcription process. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Create an online document and share it with your colleague
  2. With both of you having the document open, listen to the same interview recording at the same time
  3. One of you will transcribe the interview audio as usual
  4. The other member will edit the text in real-time

The downside is that you will need a colleague who is available for the task. On the bright side, this significantly reduces the likelihood of needing subsequent draft revisions and allows you to have a complete transcript sooner.

Bonus: Use A Transcription Service

No matter what method you use, transcription will always take a lot of time, energy, and skill. There is a technique that lets you benefit from interview transcriptions without these drawbacks, however: transcription services.

Outsourcing the transcription work to expert transcribers allows you to focus on your main tasks and benefit from transcripts simultaneously. Choose a transcription provider that offers a variety of services, such as general transcription services and rush transcription services.

TranscriptionWing, for example, provides market research transcriptions and academic research transcriptions that can benefit various clients.

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