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Three Steps of the Speech Transcription Process

Converting a speech, lecture, or webinar into a written or electronic text document is very helpful. Transcription improves audience comprehension by reinforcing what one hears and sees in an audio or video.

The process of transcription is not as easy as it sounds. Automating the process has made it more straightforward but also left a few gaping loopholes. These gaps make a human-based transcription service the best option as it assures accuracy and retains the meaning of the audio or video.

The Speech Transcription Process in a Nutshell

Think of this scenario, listening to a keynote speech delivered by the head of state from a country in South America at the United Nations General Assembly. Imagine that you are conversant with an Australian accent. It would be hectic to follow through with the speech without an accompanying text. Here are three steps that you can use to transcribe that speech.

Familiarize Yourself With the Whole Speech

Before you start transcribing, listening to or watching the whole speech should always be the first thing that comes to mind. Familiarizing yourself helps pre-empt any drawbacks that might slow you down.

As you listen, take down notes and identify key pointers and jargon that might require research. During this process, you can also decide on the kind of transcription to use for the speech. It can be a full verbatim transcription or clean verbatim transcription.

Choosing full verbatim transcription requires you to write down every word and audible event, including laughter, applause, etc. You would also include filler words, such as “mm-hmm,” “uh,” and “you know.” This type of transcription also contains repetitions, speech errors, and false starts.

The second variety, clean verbatim, results in a transcript that also accurately represents the speech from the audio or video file. However, it comes without repetitions, filler words, speech errors, and false starts. This method improves readability and may be easier for speech analysis.

Create the First Rough Draft, Revisit, and Edit

Your next step after going through the whole speech is creating the initial draft. This is a step many may overlook as it presents itself as a waste of time. In this first draft, writing continuously without pausing and caring about accuracy is advisable. If you cannot decipher certain portions, leave them for now. This is to save on time spent writing the draft. Typing using shortcuts is also highly recommended to facilitate faster typing.

With the draft complete, checking for possible errors and polishing the draft follows. At this point, you can now listen to the speech again as you address any mishears, spelling mistakes, typos, and inconsistencies.

Format the Speech to Your Preference

There is no designated format for transcription. Some transcripts, however, contain the name of the speaker and time stamps. The time stamps are very helpful if you need to reference the recording. For example, if you want to study a speaker’s expressions when addressing a particular topic, time stamps are an easy way to locate the exact point in the video.

All that remains in this final stage is adjusting the transcript to fit your needs and ensuring it fulfills its intended purpose. If the speech is for an academic assignment, you may need to change the typeface and font size and add subheadings, titles, page numbers, and paragraphs.


Now that you know these three steps, you are ready to start transcribing. Following this procedure will give you accuracy and speed in completing your speech transcription. Nonetheless, doing it by yourself can be hectic. That’s why agencies like GoTranscript exist. If you need a transcript done quickly at a reasonable price, click here.

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