Conference call transcriptions are rather highly valued in the world of business, primarily because it allows people to review important decisions and topics that may dictate a company’s or group’s business going forward.
It is easy to assume that holding a conference call and then subsequently presenting its recording is an easy task. It is even easier to fail holding a proper conference call and not submit a proper recording for transcription because your audio was so bad that even you, who held and chaired the conference call, was not able to understand even an iota of it.
Thus, here is a list of somewhat technical things that should be kept in mind when thinking of planning and hosting a conference call as well as when submitting the recording for transcription.
- Choose a quality conference service provider
This is certainly the most obvious item on this list and one of the most important to boot, yet so many people seemingly forget this rather commonsensical item. Your conference call is only as good as the equipment that you use for it. Thus, choosing the right conference service provider is the first step to conference call success, and then to a good conference call transcription.
There are many things to consider when choosing a conferencing service provider, ranging from price and cost to more technical matters such as how many callers are supported and what vendor is providing service in its conferencing technology. Like many things, how you choose between all of them depends on what exactly you need to accomplish in your conference call. Why choose the most expensive services when you’re only going to conduct a ten-minute call between four people and all you want to talk about is the weather in, say, Antarctica or something? So, choose the conference service provider you would use depending on your stated goals for the conferencing. Just don’t expect that the more mediocre ones, which cost low or may even be free, would rival the quality that can be found in the higher-priced services. You get what you pay for, after all.
- Stick to good old analog
Quite a lot of conferencing services give you the choice of either using traditional phone lines or VoIP (internet audio). If this is the case, then opt to use traditional phone lines. Depending on the service provider, you don’t lose out on anything, even if you’re planning to host a web conference, because some services offer relatively seamless phone audio integration into a web conference so you get clear audio for your online happening.
Even with the advent of such things like fiber optics cables and whatnot that have dramatically increased the reliability of the Internet, it is still a relative newcomer to technology, especially when compared to the telephone, which has been in existence in some way or another for over a century now. The telephone has been given time to mature to a stable state, whereas VoIP calls, which rely on the Internet, still has bugs here and there. Sure, it may have improved by leaps and bounds compared to, say, a decade ago, but the fact remains that even with a strong Internet connection, VoIP calls still experiences pops, clickings, strong feedback, and other such noises due to the digital sound file. Those kinds of noises severely hamper and will no doubt reduce the quality of your conference call recording and transcription.
If the service provider gives no option other than to do a VoIP call, then make sure that you’re connected to a reliable Internet connection. Use an Ethernet cable to connect your device to the Internet, as this has noticeably less latency and lag than using a Wi-Fi connection.
- Use a landline with headset
Ideally, you should use a landline phone with a headset rather than a handheld phone or over speakerphone. Cell phones, while generally having reliable connection, are still far inferior to the quality that landline phones can bring to bear. Landline phones don’t pick up a lot of background noise, as well, compared to cell phones and even speaking over speakerphone. These background noises will make it harder for a conference transcription service to generate quality conference call transcriptions.
For even better call quality, use a headset or earpiece hardwired to the device that you are using. A good headset or earpiece helps you further eliminate background noise and control volume settings and the like, which can be a godsend when there’s so much noise around, like when some construction work is going outside of the office and you can’t exactly mute it altogether. Avoid using Bluetooth-connected headsets as these are less reliable and more prone to being disconnected than a hardwired headset or earpiece.
- Do what you can to control your setting
Try to pick the quietest room to do the conference call. If you’re in your office, try to find a small, closed, and secluded room free from background chatter or sudden interruptions from officemates and whatnot. Mute other phones and electronic devices that could make noise in the area. Before starting the conference call, post a placard or some sort of reminder outside the room to dissuade would-be noisemakers from making noise and disturbing your call.
- Use the muting function, and control your volume
Virtually all conferencing call providers provide an option for muting participants in the call. Get familiar with this function, for this will no doubt be one of your best allies in the call to come. Ask your conferencing call provider for the specifics of the muting they provide, and use them accordingly. Tell all participants in the call to mute themselves when they are not speaking, as not muting properly will lead to the bane of conference calls: sudden background noise that was unexpected yet still came, such as dogs barking, cats meowing, horns honking, strong wind blowing or someone shouting something. Such things will damage your conference call recordings and transcriptions.
Related to this, use the volume controls on your landline or device to raise or lower the volume required to be heard and to hear the conference call. Adjust your headset when other participants have trouble hearing you speak.
- Don’t get too close to the mic
This is an entry in this list that a lot of conference call participants inadvertently make. Being close to the microphone amplifies such “plosives” as b, d, g, k, p, and t which makes a rather annoying popping sound that is a genuine nuisance and mood basher for the other participants. To avoid this, put your own microphone to the side of the lips and not directly in front. Adjust the position of your headset until you get it just right, and try to hold it with a finger or two to steady it while you’re talking. Also, make it a habit to ask other participants if you’re getting it just right. This will avoid any unwanted interruptions or annoying noises in your conference call recording and transcription.
This also has the effect of actually reducing the likeliness of echoes happening, which can further deteriorate the quality of your recording and subsequent transcription.
- Convert the file at a high processing rate
Don’t skimp out on having a large file at the end of your conference call and instead opt for converting your file to the largest possible processing rate. This will increase the file size of your recording, but rest assured for the higher the processing speed in kilobytes, the higher the quality of the recording. Try to convert .wav files to the more common .mp3 format for easier support and playback on computers. If possible, let the file convert overnight so that the good quality conference recording is available the next day for immediate transcription.
With the above tips, as well as knowing the best practices for conference call transcriptions, it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to make professional and high-quality recordings of conference call for immediate submission to a quality transcription service who can turn your audio into text and thus make it a hell of a lot easier for you to do your job and get success and rewards. Just remember one thing: the equipment, and how you handle them, are key to a successful conference call recording and transcription.