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Simple Tips for Recording Online Interviews

If you’re a qualitative researcher, the chances are you conduct most of your interviews online using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meets. That’s why we’ve created this follow up to our blog post Simple Tips for How to Record an Audio Interview.

Recording remote interviews comes with different challenges to recording audio interviews in person, but the benefits of high quality recording are the same. By following these few simple steps, you can make sure you’re still producing good quality audio recordings.

1. Record within the online platform

It may seem obvious, but use the recording tool within the online platform you are using. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet all allow you to record a video meeting and all have support pages explaining now to do it. It may be tempting to just put your dictaphone or phone recorder next to your phone or laptop, but this will result in a poorer quality recording, especially of the participant’s voice. Look at the Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet support pages for how to record within the meeting. If you have problems, contact the customer service team, or check out some YouTube videos. Your audio transcription service will be grateful!

2. Speak into the mic

We’ve all been in online meetings where some of the speakers have been inaudible. When you’re interviewing somebody, you want them to feel at ease. However, if the voice is inaudible on the recording, it’s no use to you.

If your interviewee has a set of headphones with a built-in mic encourage them to use them, as they will then be speaking directly into the microphone. Standard mobile phone headphones work fine. If they don’t have these, encourage them to sit closer to the device microphone until you can hear them clearly.

If the person is inexperienced in video calling, do a tech check the day before to iron out any problems. It’s usually worth doing a short test recording before you start the interview, to make sure everyone can be heard clearly.

3. Reduce background noise

Remember this point from our first blog post? Well, it’s exactly the same with an online interview, except that in this case you have less control over where your interviewee will be located. When you schedule the interview, ask them to find a quiet space if they can where they will be undisturbed. If you have audio email notifications, make sure to turn them off.

As before, think about potential sources of background noise, such as passing traffic or a nearby school. Think about closing any windows. If next door’s kids come home at 3pm and make lots of noise, try to organise the interview for a quieter time of day.

4. Check your Internet connection

Video calls can be disrupted by low bandwidth and unstable Internet. You’ll know this is happening when the line starts to crackle or scramble, or the other person’s video freezes altogether. Sometimes you will get a message saying ‘your Internet connection is unstable’.

If your WiFi connection is weak, conduct your interviews as close to your router as possible, or think about using an ethernet cable. If you have a large house and can’t get closer to the router, you could invest in an extender. However, check out these tips before you spend money, because it may simply be that you need to update your router’s firmware or ensure you are on the 5GHz band.

If you have problems within the interview, turning off your own or the interviewee’s video can help, as it reduces the amount of data the device needs to send.

5. Limit speakers talking over each other

Check out our first post Simple Tips for How to Record an Audio Interview for tips on this. It’s just as important when recording online!

Conclusion

These are simple and easy to implement tips on how to record an online interview which is clear and audible.

This will not only help you get the most from your qualitative research, but can also make life easier for your academic transcription service – saving you both time and money.

Do you have any other tips to improve the quality of online interview recordings? Let us know in the comments.

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TypeOlogy is an academic transcription service based in the UK.

Featured

Simple tips for how to record an audio interview

Recording an interview so that the speakers are clearly audible can be trickier than it seems, but by following these few simple steps you can make sure you’re producing good quality audio recordings for your qualitative research right away.

High quality audio has many benefits. Most importantly, you will avoid losing any valuable information from the interviewee. But for purposes of transcription, the quality of the audio is crucial. Interviews with decent audio are cheaper to transcribe and can be completed more quickly, meaning you save valuable money and time for your research project.

This is a handful of simple tips on recording an audio interview that you can use today.

1.       Reduce background noise

It may seem obvious, but background noise is the number one cause of poor audio quality. It isn’t always possible to conduct interviews in a quiet place, but taking simple steps to reduce background noise can have a huge impact on the result.

Try to avoid public places such as cafés or parks. If possible, a private space such as the interviewee’s house, a booked meeting space or your office, is ideal.

Think about potential sources of background noise, even if it seems quiet now. There may be no traffic on the road outside right now, but if a truck goes past at the wrong moment you may lose something crucial. So think about closing any windows.

Closely survey your environment, as even seemingly minor background noises can become a problem. The fridge in the next room may be barely audible, but when the compressor kicks in halfway through the interview it may become a big problem. Can you close a door or unplug an appliance to avoid this kind of issue?

Your audio transcription service will be grateful!

2.       Limit speakers talking over each other

For some types of interview, the more conversational the tone, the more an interviewee opens up. However, this can lead to the second most common issue for audio quality – speakers talking over one-another. The more casual the tone of the interview, the bigger an issue this is likely to be.

Each research project is different, so it is up to the researcher to decide how best to strike the balance here. However, there are some simple things you can do to reduce this problem. It can be helpful to explain this to interviewees at the start, and remind them if it becomes overly chatty.

You may choose to employ non-verbal language, such as nods and gestures. In certain situations, it can even be useful to employ a rule, such as only the person holding a certain object can speak.

You will never eliminate people speaking over each other, but taking simple steps to limit this issue can have a huge impact on the quality of your interview recording.

3.       Placement of recording device

Whatever device you’re recording on, placement is key. Make sure you put the recorder in a place where it can pick up clearly both the interviewer and any interviewees. It’s usually worth doing a short test recording before you start the interview, to make sure everyone can be heard clearly.

Again, be mindful of potential noises when placing the Dictaphone. A glass desk may seem sensible, but if a nearby phone vibrates or an interviewee taps the desktop, that small sounds can be like an earthquake on your audio recording.

4.       Upgrade your equipment

This is at the end of the list because, quite simply, there’s no point splashing out on expensive kit if you haven’t first tried the above tips. It may be that, when you take steps to limit interference, your iPhone or tablet produces decent enough audio for your purposes. Great!

If not, only then do you want to invest in better equipment. We are currently writing a guide for buying a digital audio recorder, but the simplest advice is to ask yourself: what will I use it for? There is no point spending extra on a Dictaphone with long battery life if you are just conducting short interviews in your office.

Conclusion

These are simple and easy to implement tips on how to record an audio interview which is clear and audible.

This will not only help you get the most from your qualitative research, but can also make life easier for your academic transcription service – saving you both time and money.

Do you have any other tips to improve the quality of interview recordings? Let us know in the comments.

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TypeOlogy is an academic transcription service based in the UK.

Why you should create a transcript for your podcast 

Millions of people worldwide are tuning into podcasts for learning, entertainment, and news. And if you are spending the time to create good quality content, you want to make sure that content is as accessible and discoverable as possible. 

What’s a transcript? 

A transcript is a word-for-word account of your podcast. It is made by listening to your podcast and writing down what has been said so it can be read. 

There are loads of different reasons why you should provide transcripts alongside your podcasts: 

Accessibility

Providing a written transcript can be useful in removing barriers to enjoyment of  your podcast. 11 million people in the UK are deaf or hard of hearing. Some people with difficulty with sensory processing might also prefer to read than to listen. Listeners whose first language is not English may find having a written transcript useful so they can look up words that they have missed. Providing a transcript of your podcast can help expand your audience and can help give you a good reputation for being inclusive. 

Better Search Engine Optimisation 

Providing transcripts on your website gives a massive amount of searchable content on your webpage, increasing the amount of traffic to your website, meaning you reach more potential listeners. Many content creators will only link to podcast content that has a transcript, as it provides something for their readers and listeners to explore without listening to a whole episode. The increase in backlinks to your website will also increase your search engine optimisation, meaning you have more ways for your potential listeners to find out about your podcast. 

Increase your social media engagement 

Having an accessible and searchable transcript allows your listeners to more easily share quotes and highlights from your podcast on their social media – meaning you increase your reach and engagement. 

Using transcripts for new content 

Transcripts are a valuable source of written copy that can be easily repurposed into blogs, infographics, and social media posts.  

Creating a transcript is easier than you think! 

Having a transcript made is easier and cheaper than you might think. While you could use an automatic transcription service, the technology isn’t fully there and so it often doesn’t provide a reliable transcript. There is no accurate substitute for a human being.

At TypeOlogy, we aim to offer a fairly-priced service. Our base rate is £1.20 per minute of audio. However, we may make additional charges depending on the quality of audio, number of speakers, etc. If you email us at typeology.coop@gmail.com with a sample of your audio we can give you an accurate quote. We may be able to offer discounted rates for students and for community projects whose aims we support. Please contact us for details.