Recording focus groups for Transcription

Top tips to ensure better quality audio for transcription


Focus groups with several speakers are generally among the more difficult recordings to transcribe, although there are ways in which you can increase the accuracy of the finished written record before you even begin your session.

Identify and eliminate background noise

On an audio recording, background noise is just as loud as the people speaking, so things like air conditioning, shuffling papers or having a window open onto a busy street can reduce the quality of the recording quite significantly. Eliminate these sources of noise wherever possible before you begin.

Trial run your environment

Identifying sources of background noise is much easier if you test your device before the focus group begins. Record a short clip, preferably with a few people speaking to simulate the focus group, then play back the clip to ensure the speech is clear. You’ll find it much easier to notice any unwanted background noises by listening to the playback.

Keep control of the conversation

A strict moderator can dramatically improve the quality of your recording, and therefore the reliability of the resulting text record. The moderator’s role is usually to ensure only one person speaks at once, typically reducing the number of “[unclear]” timestamps in your finished document from people talking over each other, and giving you a more accurate written version of your discussions.

Establish identity at the beginning

Another good practice when recording focus groups for transcription is to ensure all participants introduce themselves at the start of the conversation. This allows the transcriber to more accurately identify different speakers and correctly attribute each comment to each person.

We highly recommend following the above guidance if you want to get the most out of your focus group discussion after it has been transcribed. If you have any more questions about best practices or how we might accommodate your specific requests, please get in touch.

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