5 Ways to Avoid Sounding like An Idiot on Your Recordings

If you caught our post 5 Best Headsets and Microphones for Recording in Your Home Office, hopefully you have your equipment are ready to start recording. As you get ready to record your interview, teleseminar or audio instruction, here are a few things you can do to get better audio (which means better transcripts) and happier clients.

1. Chose an Appropriate Recording Location.

The Whale Story

When I was very first striking out on my own as a transcriptionist and taking private clients, I was elated to have a client approach me with close to 50 hours of audio. Would have kept me busy for weeks at that stage in my business. Oh boy did I not know how busy it was about to keep me. The project was for a documentary on a certain island state combining their marine habitats into the state resources (or something equally boring.)

Key phrase here was “marine habitats…” The client was interviewing zoologists, whale trainers, dolphin trainers, cage cleaners, the gate keepers, etc. Many of them he was interviewing in their work area. If you’ve never been to Sea World, whales are freaking loud animals.

But by far the worst interview was one he did over lunch on a patio. This particular island state is very windy. Apparently their sandwiches were wrapped in paper and they were next to a walrus enclosure. The audio was SO bad, that out of the whole hour and 20 minute file, I had a total of  about 35 audible words.

When using a recording device that will pick up multiple voices, every noise in the area will be picked up. Wind (or even a fan) can muffle it all though. Now, I know this is a slightly outlandish (yet totally true) story, I never, ever suggest recording an interview outdoors. There are too many uncontrollable aspects that you probably won’t notice until you download your audio.
Quiet enclosed offices are ideal. The more you think like a radio or recording studio the better.

Titus dressed up For the Renaissance Festival

2. Lock Rover outside.

As much as we love our pets, they make noises that we don’t need in our audio. Trust me everyone else can hear your cats rustling around the papers on your desk too.

Don’t feel bad! I’m guilty too. One of my previous jobs was answering calls from my house while I still lived with my parents. They own Weimeraners that hate the UPS man. On one occasion I told a client, “No, I don’t hear any dogs. Are you sure they aren’t on your end?” (No they didn’t have on jingle bells on that occasion.)

Unfortunately with recordings, you can’t use that excuse.

3. Ah, the UPS Guy…

I have nothing against UPS but delivery guys, the mail man, and especially maintenance men can ruin your interview. I live in an apartment complex and it seems every time I have an interview scheduled the landscapers are here mowing. My problem is not so much my headsets or microphones picking up the noise, but bad connections from the internet or phone. As unpredictable as some of these services can be, it’s best to prepare around them if you can.

Delivery guys can also be a problem if like above you have an animal that goes crazy when they come up to the house or ring the door bell.

4. Eat Afterwards

If you are interviewing someone else in person or recording a round table session, don’t provide snacks during the session. Cheetos are worse than wind, especially if your loud chewer is right in front of the recording device. It also will distract your subject and you can only imagine what the listener or transcriptionist is thinking about the food noises caught on the recording. (Gum is usually just as bad.. trust me we can hear it.)

5. Think Before You Speak

Here’s where you can take a lesson from any beauty queen. She doesn’t rush into an answer. She repeats the question giving herself a few seconds to think about what she is going to say and how she is going to answer. You will be less likely to stumble or stutter or say something completely stupid if you follow the same formula.

Repeating the question is also a great way to ensure it is recorded if the person asking the question might not have been heard. Sometimes your answer just won’t make sense out of context.

Secondarily, repeating the question condenses your speech. If you are on a timed call or session, it’s important to be as concise as possible. After a while the added minutes of stumbling and stuttering will add up on your transcript bill. For example if you are doing a weekly 1 hour call that consistently goes over by 10 minutes, obviously every 6 weeks you hit an extra hour on your bill.

The great thing about preparing is you kill 3 birds with a single stone, you sound better on your recording, you get better quality transcripts because you sounded better and you get better at sounding better from the practice. Be sure to let me know what problems you have with recording your audio and if there is anything I can do to help.


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