Effective business communication helps your company succeed in any marketplace: This is especially true in a marketplace like Singapore. Here, your employees, partners and clients might include speakers of English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil – with different degrees of fluency in each. That’s not to mention your international partners and investors… Luckily, there is a business communication technique used by companies around the world when they want to send their messages loud and clear: Transcription. In this article, we’ll start off by taking a look at the different types of transcription which are available to your business. Then we will take a brief step back to consider what effective business communication consists of. Finally, we’ll complete the circle by looking at places where transcription is the ideal solution to business communication challenges. Contents:
- What is transcription and why is it useful?
- Types of transcription and why they matter
- Why is good business communication important?
- What makes for effective business communication?
- Business communication examples – where transcription comes in
- Transcripts, subtitles and accessibility
- Add value for yourself and your audience
- The bonus value of transcription – SEO
What is transcription and why is it useful?
Transcription is the process of accurately recording the details of an audio or video file in a text format. The idea sounds simple. But producing high-quality transcriptions is actually very challenging. You’ll need a professional transcriber if you want to guarantee the accuracy, speed and level of transcription you require…
Types of transcription and why they matter
When you’re getting something transcribed, remember the purpose you have in mind for it if you want to get the best out of your project. This might be for:
- Legal purposes
- Market and scientific research
- Online video content and podcasts
- To prepare films and television series for subtitling
- Speeches and conferences
- Business communications, such as interviews and meetings
This is important because there are actually three basic types of transcription. Your project will guide you in selecting the one which is right for you:
1) Verbatim transcription
When producing this type of transcription, a transcriber will faithfully record every single audio detail. This can include background noises, coughs, sneezes, signs of emotion, the way in which a person is speaking – very quietly or while laughing, for example – and much more. It will also include all the conversational false-starts, repetition and filler words like “erm” or “ahh” which are a normal part of the way in which most people speak.
This is ideal for: situations where understanding how a person is speaking is as important as what is being said.
Not ideal because: the high level of detail and potential distractions can make a verbatim transcription difficult to read.
2) Edited verbatim transcription
To overcome the issue of too much detail, too many filler words and other elements which make a verbatim transcription a little challenging to get through, an editing process is often included in transcription. This type of transcription streamlines a great deal of the detail you’ll find in the original transcription, often making it clearer to see what is being said. This is ideal for: situations where some or all of the background details of a recording are extraneous. Also ideal for situations where you need a transcribed audio file to be more readable. Not ideal because: sometimes – such as in clinical or market research – the details of how someone speaks are at least as important as what they’ve said. These details may also be useful as indicators of veracity. This is useful in many circumstances – and vital in legal ones.
3) Intelligent transcription
Intelligent transcription is the natural extension of the process of editing a transcribed recording. Here, the conversational words on an audio recording will be transformed into complete, grammatically-correct sentences and all filler, hesitations and background sounds eliminated. This is ideal for: situations where the words people are using are what matters most. Also in publication, where readability is often the key factor. Not ideal because: the detail of the original recording will be lost, though this may be a benefit depending on your project.
Why is good business communication important?
You’ll probably already see how each of these types of transcription lends itself to a different role within your organisation’s communications. After all, business communication is the way in which different parties within an organisation – or in different organisations – exchange messages. The most critical aspect of effective business communication is making sure that those messages can be clearly understood.
- At best, misunderstood messages can waste hours of your employees’ time. Or they might result in an outcome completely different from your initial idea or expectations.
- At worst, poor communication can completely ruin professional and inter-organisational relationships. In short, you want to get yours right.
What makes for effective business communication?
Effective business communication’s importance is recognised by companies of all sizes all over the world. CEOs and managers spend millions each year trying to improve the way their employees talk to each other and to other parties, learning important lessons about what works along the way. You can often boil these down to three essentials:
1) Being professional
It’s easy enough to start getting a little too casual when using some forms of communication. After all, many people use the same communication channels – messenger apps and email, for instance – in their private lives. In general, being professional will include:
- Being conversational – not confrontational. Becoming emotional – especially displaying anger – in a business setting rarely achieves your desired outcome. It’s also considered extremely rude in many parts of the world.
- Being considerate – ask questions and make it clear you’re ready to answer others.
- Being confident – presenting your information with confidence actually makes what you’re saying easier to understand.
- Being congenial – general positivity is good, but don’t use humour. Many real-world business communication examples will show you how badly wrong even well-intentioned humour can go in a professional setting.
2) Being concise
Say what you want to say. Don’t use unnecessary words or complicated terms when simple language will do.
As someone who’s already intimately familiar with business etiquette in Singapore, you’ll know how most Singaporean professionals prefer to get right to the point of things.
Without fail, you should always read your own messages back to yourself at least once or twice before hitting “send”. Is there any waffle or room for misunderstanding there? Is that information correct?
This concision should also extend to who you choose to communicate with. Hitting “reply all” on an email chain might not be necessary, for example.
3) Being thorough
Making sure the other party gets the whole story and can understand the big picture is one of the most important features of good communication anywhere.
Anything you don’t mention early on can create a large number of problems further down the line when it becomes a matter of importance.
Business communication examples – where transcription comes in
There are a few obvious circumstances where transcription is going to be particularly useful to your business communications:
1) Office meetings and negotiations
Verbal communication is great. Remembering exactly what everyone has said and what they agreed to after a verbal exchange… Well, that can be a challenge. That’s where getting your office meetings and – even more importantly – any external negotiations you’re engaged in transcribed enters the picture. It will give you a clearly written record to refer to in the future.
2) Interviews and focus groups
Most professional marketers will tell you that having a written record of the audio findings of market and scientific research interviews and focus groups is an absolute necessity. Whether this data needs to be easily searchable later, prepared for translation so that a multinational team can analyse it, or more easily built into any reports which are generated, transcribing interviews is usually a required step in the process.
Taking notes at a conference is rarely as effective as having a transcript of the proceedings available for review. Many sensible conference organisers will offer written transcripts of events. If yours doesn’t, making an audio recording allows you to retain all of the knowledge imparted by the speakers – as well as during the “any questions” phase. These are an illuminating part of the discussion which may not be included in pre-prepared scripts.
Transcripts, subtitles and accessibility
One of the major benefits of providing a transcript of your audio and video content is that it makes it much more accessible for your audience. This can be very useful for:
- People who are deaf or hard of hearing
- People accessing your content in a language they’re not completely familiar with (in Singapore, this can be of particular benefit because of the four official languages. People may have some competency, but not necessarily mastery, of some or all of these)
Add value for yourself and your audience
In addition to improving accessibility, adding a transcript adds a great deal of value to almost any audio or video content you publish. For your audience:
- Many readers may prefer to skim-read a transcript of video content in order to save time.
- Viewers in noisy or sound-sensitive locations may struggle to listen to a video. This leaves reading a transcript their only option if they want to access your content.
- Improve the value you offer with products such as webinars by providing textual resources too.
Transcripts also allow you to:
- Easily repurpose your content into blog posts, infographics and social media
- Improve the amount of time users spend on your web pages
- Plus, there are rather large and tangible Search Engine Optimisation benefits…
The bonus value of transcription – SEO
At the moment, Google and other search engines love video content. Including a video file on your web pages can dramatically boost your Search Engine Optimisation effectiveness, shooting you up the rankings on any given Search Engine Results Page. But, Google’s spiders can’t crawl that content. No more than they can your other visual content – that’s why your image alt text is so important.
This makes it vital that you include a transcription with your video content. A transcription often adds a significant amount of highly relevant and knowledge-filled content to your page – content which is also usually naturally filled with keywords and semantic keywords. If you’re worried this might not happen naturally, all you need to do is smoothly build your well-researched keywords into the script you’re using for your video. Then, when the transcript is produced, they’ll be there.