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The Importance of Transcription

Daniel Chang
Daniel Chang
Posted in Zoom Sep 4 · 6 Sep, 2015
The Importance of Transcription

Thousands of inspirational public speeches have been held in the history of humankind. Regrettably, only the ones that have been recorded remained as a cultural legacy, brought to our times. There are, however, a decent number of those which are at our disposal. Have you heard the I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King or Connecting the Dots by Steve Jobs? You got it – it was possible thanks to the records.

Why Recording Is Crucial

The I Have a Dream speech was given by Martin Luther King in 1963. It’s fantastic if you had the chance to witness The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in person. If not, you can still listen to the recording here:

Let’s compare these two alternative cases (witnessing vs. listening post factum). The differences are undeniable, aren’t they?

Live Speech Recording
Present Past
In public In private
Presence Absence
Natural Artificial
Authentic Derivative
Focus on emotions Focus on ratio

To sum up, the most significant advantage of recorded speech is that you can replay it as much as it suits your needs. Recordings also spare you from interpretations, which are usually based on your emotions as listeners. They are colder than live speeches, but data is not supposed to be warm, right?

Why Transcriptions Make Recordings Visible and More Accessible

If you have 15 minutes to spare, we would recommend you to listen to Connecting the Dots. That’s a truly inspiring commencement address by Steve Jobs to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005:

If you have less time, at least go through its transcription

Hundreds of millions of hours of audio and video content are consumed by billions of people around the world on a daily basis. Business meetings, marketing materials, presentations, webinars, panels, podcasts, interviews, speeches - audiovisual content is crucial to modern communication. Admittedly, transcripts can’t replace recordings, but they do supplement them. Here’s how!

  • Better user experience

Making the text from your media available to the audience significantly enhances the overall user experience because people can choose to watch, listen to, or read your content as they wish. Providing the audience with these options allows them to use the information you offer and share it further, increasing overall engagement with the content.

A great example of this is TED. This world-famous media organization incorporates text into the user experience by adding interactive transcripts to its video content. As you watch a video, you can search the accompanying transcript and navigate through the content significantly easier - clicking on a word in the text takes you to the moment when it’s spoken in the video. This makes it significantly easier to follow along, skip to certain points, and absorb the content.

  • Improved accessibility

Transcribing video content and providing subtitles or closed captioning helps people with hearing impairments enjoy your content. And not just them. People who consume your media in loud environments like bars and gyms or sound-sensitive places like libraries and hospitals will also be able to enjoy it without missing out. On top of that, closed captions and transcripts improve comprehension, especially when the content features fast speakers or people with heavy accents.

  • SEO boost

If you ever published video or audio content online, you know search engines can’t “read” it properly, making it impossible for your potential audience to find it. By transcribing your content, you allow search engines to crawl through the content properly and index it, which drives more traffic to it. You can use a transcript in your video or podcast description, offer it as a document people can download, or easily convert it into subtitles and captions.

  • Increased reach

Thanks to the internet, everything is just a click away, and it’s easier than ever to connect with people who speak different languages. YouTube, the largest video hosting platform out there, is localized for 75 countries! It’s also available in over 60 languages. Having your content transcribed is the first step toward translating it into other languages. There’s no better way of targeting new audiences from different regions and increasing your global appeal. 

  • Efficient learning

Different people gain knowledge most efficiently in different ways. Some prefer watching or listening, and others prefer reading. Offering text along with other types of content provides the optimal learning experience since it helps the brain comprehend the material at its own pace. Transcribing lectures, historic speeches, and other content helps people absorb the material and refer to specific points easier. Transcriptions are also irreplaceable for students whose native language isn’t English because they can see the words and get familiar with new and unknown terms.

Transcription Matters

There’s no shortage of content out there, so make sure yours resonates with the target audience. When you start working on your next project, consider including transcription and let it amplify your message!