A male moderator holding research documents is conducting an in depth interview with a female consumer

Something often asked in transcriber circles is the question of what is the quickest way to transcribe something, whether an interview, focus group discussion, meeting, panel, or something else.

This question is more complicated than it might seem at first, really, because there is no single magical way for someone to speed up their transcribing, though it would indeed be very convenient if there was one. There are, however, several proven ways by which someone could, with the right amount of time and effort invested into it, hasten their transcribing speed. 

Here Are Some of the Ways You Can Speed-up Your Transcription Project:

1. A good work environment

First and foremost, on a transcriber’s to-do list when transcribing interviews, or any other types of audio really, is to secure a good working environment where they can be free to do their job without any interruption. This means finding a nice, quiet spot wherein there is little to no distraction or any type of background noise. This is especially prevalent when using voice typing tools to speed up your transcribing, as most, if not all, voice typing tools floating around on the market will have an extremely hard time “listening” accurately to the audio when there is moderate to significant background noise of any type.

The value of a good chair can also never be underestimated in transcribing, for a transcriber will invariably spend a good chunk of their time transcribing seated. Having a good chair that conforms to the natural shape and outline of the body and is thus immensely comfortable would help with maintaining good posture, which is essential not only to one’s health but will also ensure that one can stay focused on the audio, thus ensuring the quality of the transcript.

2. Good tools

Finding a good transcription software or program should be a high priority for any transcriber aiming to be good at their job. Software specializing in transcription allows transcribers to pause the audio, rewind or fast forward, speed up the playback speed, and other such functions with but a single button press, which would come extremely handy for any type of transcription work because it is rather hard – or even downright impossible for quite a lot of people – to transcribe every single word accurately the first time around, and so a lot of manipulating audio is needed.

Also consider investing in a high-quality headset or earphone of some kind, as this will let you hear and correctly transcribe words much better. Noise-canceling headsets, in particular, are a godsend for those audio files with rather abysmal quality.

3. Typing speed

The typing speed of someone is perhaps the single thing that people think about when it comes to transcribing, and quite understandably so, for typing speed in transcribing is indeed very important. A person who can type at the rate of, say, 50 to 60 words per minute will be able to output transcription work faster than someone who can only manage 30 to 35 words per minute.

For those who are not proficient in typing, consider attending a typing class or downloading a typing program that can help with learning about techniques such as proper touch-typing that will increase typing speed.

4. Proper usage of autocorrect tools

Misspellings are quite common in something like transcription work where the norm seems to be that whoever types the fastest wins. Quite ironically, it is this seeming obsession with typing faster that leads to overall slower output time since it is surprisingly time-consuming to actually correct these misspellings. 

Autocorrect tools, when used correctly, help immensely with this issue because then the transcriber does not have to go back and correct every single misspelling. Just don’t forget to set the rules so that the autocorrect tool actually inputs the right words and terms in place of the misspellings. 

5. Practicing often

People often say that practice makes perfect. This adage is extremely true when it comes to transcribing audio. As with virtually everything, a person is not born good at transcription; he or she must put forward tons of work and effort in order to be even remotely good at it. This equates to spending a good number of hours transcribing something, as well as practicing.

Try to practice transcription by watching videos having people with what you may consider an unusual accent, and try to transcribe the whole movie’s dialogue as accurately as you can, then refer to the official subtitles or the whole screenplay, if available online, when finished to see whether you got most of it correct. Continue practicing until you get to the level you feel most comfortable with.