While I’m a great fan of technology, transcribing IT-related recordings is not one of my favorite tasks. There are way too many acronyms and the speakers are invariably so excited about their subject that they speak ‘at the rate thought’, i.e. rarely pausing to breathe.

But over the years I’ve developed several tricks to make it easier. In this post I’ll share a few of them and hopefully you’ll find them useful:

1. Keep a database of spellings

I have an 20-page word document of IT-related spellings that I guard with my life.

This document has four categories – Acronyms, Applications & Software, Companies and People that I’ve come across while transcribing.

It’s sprinkled with words like Cloud BI (Business Intelligence)OLAP (Online Analytical Processing), SaaS (Software as a Service), WinShuttle, Microsoft, ORACLE, ESS/MSS, etc.).

The document is like a dictionary of IT-related words that saves me a lot of online-research time.

You can easily create such a document while transcribing a recording, updating it with new spellings as you you go.

This is especially useful if you’re working on a large number of recordings on the same topic OR working with a repeat customer.

2. Do some pre-work

Before starting to transcribe a recording, I do one round of listening simply to gather clues about the topic – like the software being discussed, the company in question, and most importantly – if the recording is part of an event that I can research online.

Large events like seminars and conferences usually have dedicated websites with a wealth of content that can be used for reference. Content can also be found on websites of companies that have organized the event.

If you can find links to PDFs/blogs for the event you’re transcribing, you can add them as favorites on your web browser and use them for reference.

3. Discuss the transcription style with your client

People who are passionate about their subject usually speak at a high rate of speech, frequently change their mind in mid-sentence and use an enormous amount of fillers (the ums, ahs, you knows, etc.).

Most clients don’t want a verbatim transcript of these speakers; they prefer a neat, easy-to-read transcript.

Knowing this beforehand can be a blessing because you can save hundreds of keystrokes by leaving out those unnecessary words. Thus it’s always a good idea to discuss the transcription style (verbatim or clean read) with the client before beginning a project.

4. Add time Codes

IT-related transcripts are often used for research and analysis. You can delight your client by adding periodic time codes in the transcript that will help them review the transcript with the audio when they begin the analysis stage of their work.

Were these tips helpful? Do you have your own short-cuts that you use while transcribing IT-related audio? Do share some tips with us!

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