Transcribing Speeches - Phrases To Avoid

Speech transcription is a valuable tool for keeping a record of what exactly was said at a seminar, classroom lecture or speech. Once the spoken word is turned into a readable format, it becomes easy for listeners to review what they heard.

In some professions, such as law, transcription is vital. This is especially true during court proceedings, when a line of witnesses may be questioned in relation to a case. The transcription method that you choose, and the type of data that you want to include/exclude from the transcript depends on your profession and goals. For example, a student may want only a brief summary of what was taught in an academic lecture, while an anthropologist or linguist may want to include details about the length of vowels, pitch or volume, as well. This article advises you on how to transcribe general speeches and seminars.

Avoiding Unnecessary Utterances

If you compare a prepared script for a speech, with a transcript of the speech that was actually delivered, you will be able to clearly see the difference between written and spoken English. In some cases, the difference between the written speech and what was spoken can be immense, as speakers often ad-lib while speaking, giving their listeners spontaneous examples and quotations.

Many transcribers often unnecessarily include self-referential expressions like 'as you will' and 'so to speak' in their transcribed writing. This is known as word patronage. This section shows you how to inspect your writing for anything that smacks of spoken English, and modify it to sound more professional.

Spontaneous speech is usually riddled with qualifications and equivocations. While transcribing a speech recording into an essay, it may be easy to get rid of utterances like 'er, um, uh, well or you know'. However, it is important for writers to also purge their writing of other unnecessary utterances, words or phrases; which while adding immensely to the word count, may not provide much to an argument or description.

Here is a list of some common hedging phrases, which transcribers and writers should consider omitting from prose:

  • As I see it
  • From my point of view
  • In my opinion
  • It seems to me
  • Be that as it may
  • Other things being equal

While such sentence fillers are understandable in spoken English, whether rehearsed or impromptu, they are actually quite meaningless words usually uttered when the speaker was trying to collect his or her thoughts, and thinking of what to say next. Such phrases usually clutter a speech, and often confuse or discourage the listener. As readers expect speech transcripts to be direct and dynamic, content writers should avoid using such self-gratifying phrases in the written form.

Today, the development of transcription software and services has made transcription much faster and easier to do than before. No longer do people have to sit by a tape recorder, typing down text on a typewriter. One can just use transcription software or hire a transcription services company, and get the hard work done quickly and efficiently.