When recording interviews or focus groups you will want to get the most accurate transcripts possible. Here are some tips to help ensure your recording is a high quality, clear audio, which in turn will produce a more accurate transcript:
- Choose a quiet environment, in a place without background noise and talking. Preferably, a room dedicated to the interview and without interruptions.
- Place the recording device or microphone closest to the participant who is speaking. It is most important to capture the replies of the respondent. Therefore having the device near the interviewer and at a distance away from the interviewee will impair the quality of hearing the respondent.
- If appropriate set guidelines for the participants before starting to record.
Mobile phones should be muted and moved from the vicinity of the recorder because even if they do not ring, electronic interference will still be picked up on the recording as digital noise and obscure speech. If possible, all mobile phones should be switched off during the interview which would solve the problem completely.
- Remind speakers to speak clearly and audibly at all times. There is a tendency to rush familiar words and phrases which can be unfamiliar to the interviewer and the transcriber. Many speakers’ voices tail off towards the end of a sentence and can become inaudible.
Request that speakers refrain from talking over each other. Remember that all sounds around a device will be caught on the recording and may obscure speech – papers rustling, refreshments, fingers drumming, feet tapping on table legs – can all cause noise which will make it hard to hear speakers.
- If there are many speakers around a table in a focus group, if available use a good quality stereo microphone. Position the microphone at a central point between participants.
- Where there are multiple speakers and if time allows, ask each participant to introduce themselves with a sentence or two; this will allow the transcriber to familiarise themselves with each speaker’s voice. If speakers take turns then the interviewer could include the name in a question to identify the speaker.