9 Tips To Speed Up Audio and Video Transcription

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In this post, I’m going to show you how to transcribe audio and videos fast using easy and achievable tactics. 
Audio transcription is not easy and for a veteran transcriber, it takes about 4-6 hours to transcribe a 1-hour audio file or interview.

What this means is that transcription requires concentration, good listening skills, a fast typing speed and sitting down for hours on end. 

It is therefore important to know how you can speed up a tedious and tasking process especially if you’re a newbie transcriber.

By the end of this post I hope to have answered these common questions:
1. How can I increase my transcription speed? 
2. How long does it take to transcribe a 1-hour audio or video interview?
3. Is there an easy way to transcribe audio? 

Audio and video transcription involves typing out what is being said and therefore one’s typing speed, grammar, punctuation, listening skills need to be summoned when you sit down to transcribe.

The accuracy of a transcript tramples how fast you can transcribe but for the purposes of this post, let us look at how you can transcribe faster.

RELATED: 7 Profitable Skills You Need To Learn Today To Make More Money As A Transcriber.

9 Tips To Help You Transcribe Faster

1. Transcribe audio and video files in smaller chunks.

Since transcription is tedious, one of the easy ways to transcribe faster is to segment your audio and video transcription tasks into batches. 

For example, a 1-hour audio file can be segmented into 10-minute files to make it easier to transcribe. 

How this works is that you trick your brain to seeing a lesser file that you can tackle in one sitting, take a break and then get back to working on another 10-minute file. 

Concentration is critical to delivering an error-free transcript and transcribing shorter files makes it easy to work on a file without getting bored or losing concentration.

Transcribing one-hour audio or video file in one sitting can result in adverse health effects and loss in concentration.

Here’s a free tool that you can use to split and cut audio files into shorter segments for transcription.
NCH’s Wavepad Audio Editing Software

How it works video.

2. Using A.I. Powered Transcription Tools.

We are in the age of A.I and Machine learning and one of the easy ways you can speed up your transcripts is automatically transcribing your audio and video files. 

I foresee a time when A.I. will be so good that some jobs will be obsolete, and transcription is under constant threat every waking minute.

Most people may not agree but automatic transcription tools can help you save time and money especially when working with audio files favored by the different automatic transcription tools.

Let’s look at some advantages and disadvantages of using automatic transcription tools.

Advantages of using Automatic transcription tools:

– helps save time,
– speeds up a tedious process
– does the heavy lifting, especially when you’re not conversant with different accents etc.
–  you can make more money since you might end up working on more files.

Disadvantages of Automatic Transcription tools:

–  result in a lot of wasted time (especially when the audio is not clear)
– excessive editing and re-punctuating
– some applications require you to pay to use

There are pros and cons to everything.
The quality of an automatically generated transcript is influenced by some factors.

Here’s are some of those factors.

Factors that influence the quality of an automatically transcribed audio or video transcript

i) The number of speakers.
The more the speakers the more mistakes and editing required.

ii) Accents
Different transcription tools hand accents differently.
For example, Otter Voice Notes, handles British accents very well.

iii) Background noise
The level of background noise is confusing to many A.I. powered transcription tools.
Although they are getting better by the day, background noise affects the quality of an automatic or manual transcript.

iv) The adaptability of the automatic transcription tool
Due to constant improvement and tweaks developers have to make, some tools adapt to different accents and talking styles better than others.
With some of these tools, you can train the A.I. engine to your talking style, accent, and articulation of words.

v) Cross-talk
If you’re working on a legal transcript, you know how courtrooms get. Arguments and people yelling and screaming at each other is a common occurrence.
I’m not sure how steganographers do it but the cross-talk involved can really affect the quality of a transcript.

vi) Recording Volume
If an audio or video file is inaudible or crackling or intermittent interruptions in the audio, chances are that the transcript will also be bad.

vii) The field being transcribed.
Transcription can be categorized into 3 types: General, Medical and Legal transcription and different transcription applications will handle different categories differently.

The age of man is over. Welcome to the rise of A.I. and machines.
Yeap! We’re done.

Although transcription tools are not 100% accurate, they are getting better by the day. 

When YouTube started doing automatic subtitles and closed captions for English language videos, the text was gibberish and full of errors.

Have you had a chance to check the automatic transcription tool on YouTube recently? It’s way better. 

Here are the tools that are available to automatically transcribe audio and video files.

  1. Otter Voice Notes – Referral
  2. Descript for Windows and Mac
  3. Temi
  4. Veed.io
  5. Happy Scribe – Referral
  6. Simon Says
  7. Trint
  8. Voicebase
  9. Sonix.Ai
  10. Watson Speech to Text (Video)
  11. Google Docs (Video)
  12. YouTube (Video)
  13. Audext

Watch how Otter Automatically Transcribes Audio to Text.

Descript for Windows for Mac is awesome especially with its inbuilt audio editing features and it’s one of the best at automatic video and audio transcription.

Here’s how it works.

Automatic transcription tools have different export options including options such as exporting transcripts as subtitles and caption files as seen with Descript.

Related: How to automatically transcribe audio and video files using Otter.

3. Outsource Transcription Work.

Outsourcing freelance work is one of the best ways to transcribe a lot of audio and video files. 

It involves delegating different files to different people that will help you get transcripts faster especially when you’re on a deadline.

Outsourcing requires one to work with transcribers that they’ve worked with before and know the kind of quality transcript each transcriber provides.

There’s nothing worse than outsourcing a 5 minute audio for transcription only to get it 2 days later and with tons of mistakes.

Always ensure that outsourced work is given to freelancers that honor NDA’s to avoid the use of clients’ work as samples. This can land you in legal trouble, especially when the information being transcribed is sensitive.

4. Take Breaks.

There’s nothing more refreshing than taking a break from transcription or any work for that matter.

You can take a water break to stretch, take a walk, nap or do something different.

This helps your brain rejuvenate and get back the focus that you’re probably losing from working long hours.

The Pomodoro Technique, a time management technique, breaks down work into intervals helping you do more and have fun while at it.  

If you want to transcribe more audio files and faster, incorporate breaks in your workflow. 

5. Use Text Expanders.

Text Expanders are applications that you can use to quickly and easily increase your typing speed and productivity at the keyboard.
They work well with words and phrases that are constantly mentioned and it is very easy to configure most text expanders to your liking.

Text expanders can be used to speed up transcription especially for repetitive words and phrases and this, in turn, helps save time, improve accuracy and help transcribers make more money because transcribers can easily output more work.

Here are some popular Text Expanders that you can use to increase your typing speed.
Instant Text Pro 7
Short Hand 10

If you’re interested in learning how to use text expanders to increase your typing speed here’s an excellent course by Linda Wagner on Master the Expander: The #1 Tool for Transcription!

Here’s how a Text Expander works.

6. Use a Foot Pedal.

A foot pedal is a very valuable tool that can help you increase your speed when transcribing.

It helps you type faster because you can configure the foot pedal to rewind, play and fast forward your audio without taking your hands off the keyboard by tapping on different sections as you’ve configured. 

USB foot pedals are the most commonly used with the Infinity USB Foot Pedal being the most recommended. 

7. Improve your Typing Speed.

Your typing speed dictates how much time it takes to transcribe 1-hour audio.

If you’re a slow typer then this means that it will take you more time to finish transcribing and this can result in rejected work, long sitting hours that can lead to backaches, etc.

Most transcription companies that hire freelancers have a required typing speed of above 60 words per minute. This helps them output more transcripts with better turn arounds for their clients.

The easiest way to improve your typing is to practice typing.

You can test you’re typing speed at TypingTest.com to see how fast you type.

There are a couple of tests on Typing Test that you can use to rate yourself as well as typing lessons and games to help you improve on your typing speed.

If you want to take a course on how to improve your typing speed you can check out this course by Anson Alexander on Learning Typing.

8. Work in a Quiet Environment or Use Noise Cancelling Headphones

A quiet environment increases productivity and boosts concentration. 

This is very valuable for a transcriber that wants to work faster while ensuring that the transcripts are of high quality. 

When you do not have the luxury of a quiet working environment, noise-canceling headphones come in handy. 

These types of headphones help block the noise from outside and keep you glued to what you’re listening to and in this scenario the audio that you’re transcribing. 

In return, this helps you work on more files while escaping the distraction that can result in slow typing speed and more time working on the same file.

BONUS: Invest in a good working table and orthopedic chair to be able to achieve a good posture when transcribing for long hours.

9. Choose your Audio Files Wisely.

Although you cannot always have your way with audio and video files that you need to transcribe, before accepting work from a client or transcription sites, ensure that you have a listen to the audio file.

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and ear-ache by listening to a file.

A friend once claimed a file from one of the reputable transcription sites with a turn around time of 3 hours only to be half-way done by the time she was supposed to return the file. 

Mind you, she’s a top-rated transcriber. 

The audio was from a noisy cafe, with strangers laughing, inaudible conversations and cars hooting. 

It was a nightmare and she vowed never to accept or claim a transcription job without listening to the audio first. 

In conclusion, if you’re looking to transcribe audio and video files faster you need to,

  1. Transcribe smaller segments of audio and video files
  2. Use automatic transcription tools
  3. Take breaks to rejuvenate
  4. Outsource your transcription gigs
  5. Use text expanders to help you type faster
  6. Use a foot pedal to help you expand words that you type frequently
  7. Improve your typing speed to touch-typing speed.
  8. Work in a quiet environment or use Noise-cancelling headphones
  9. Choose your audio and video files wisely before accepting a transcription project.

Over to you, what tip(s) do you think you’ll implement first? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “9 Tips To Speed Up Audio and Video Transcription”

  1. Hi, I have been following your posts silently for the past one year. my question is do you have any mentorship classes for newbies who need to improve on transcription. if yes kindly keep me posted. thanks so much this has been informative.

    • Hi Vicky,
      Thank you for following silently. It’s allowed. 🙂
      Unfortunately, I do not have any mentorship classes for newbies but you can always shoot me an email or request on what you’d like me to help you with.



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