You’re catching up with a friend over coffee and they ask how business is going. You tell them about your upcoming new launch. They ask a couple of questions and with great enthusiasm you give them a brief run down. They’re impressed. You wish you’d recorded what you just said because, judging by your friend’s reaction, you explained it just right. Later, back in your office, you try and replicate your words, but they come out awkward and clunky on the page. You record a one-to-one Zoom meeting with yourself, but this time you stumble over your words self-consciously. You said it perfectly before. If only you could use the transcript of what you said earlier for your next blog.
So, should we record every conversation we ever have? And do we articulate ourselves in speech as well as we think? How can we capture and use what we say to save time and make magical content?
Over the last few years, we have normalised the idea of recording our meetings. For marketers and copywriters, recording interviews with clients and client’s customers is a great way to access their real voices, phrases and thoughts. Recordings save the hassle of typing minutes. It’s an accurate record. It might even keep outlandish opinions in check and meetings on track.
Should you record every meeting just in case you say something good?
Of course, it depends. Recording conversations is generally prohibited without the consent of all participating, so only do it with everyone’s knowledge. Assess the situation and be mindful when someone wants to talk confidentially, casually or without restraint.
When joining online meetings, you’re often told by a tinny robotic voice that, “This meeting is being recorded”. And in business meetings, people say useful stuff. I’ve set up my Zoom meetings so they automatically record every time. When interviewing people for books and articles, I even transcribe those meetings straight away, so they are ready to edit as soon as I have the time to do it.
Hitting record on your Otter.ai app or other voice recorder during a face-to-face meeting still feels a bit awkward, but if you think it’s worth capturing, overcome your embarrassment and ask if you don’t mind recording.
Do we articulate ourselves in speech as well as we think we do?
I’ve been using video and audio recordings as the basis for creating content for clients for years now. They certainly save time—and have saved me the effort of learning shorthand too! In the early days, I used to meticulously play back voice recordings and type up the relevant parts of the dialogue. It used to take me an hour to type up every six minutes of a conversation. Today, I use tools, including Microsoft Word’s transcript function, to put the words on the page in a fraction of the time. But the work is far from over. Today, it takes about 30 minutes to edit 10 minutes of speech. Why does it take so long? Because we don’t articulate ourselves well in speech.
I can do a “search and delete” on any transcript for the phrases “Yeah” and “you know” and reduce the wordcount by up to 5%. We frequently repeat phrases of our sentences. We rarely use complete sentences, and we talk over each other. We don’t hear when people say, “kind of” or “like” or “umm”, but you sure read about it when you see the transcript. We filter it out as we listen, and yet the transcript can be an editing nightmare.
So, I can use my transcript as my blog?
You can, but it comes with some cautions. If you’re serious about it, you’ll go through an iterative learning process if you follow these steps:
- Record your meetings and even record your thoughts when you’re walking or working alone.
- Transcribe your voice into a written document.
- Edit what you said into something readable.
- Notice what you had to edit most:
a.Did you speak in complete thoughts and sentences? Or did they trail off without finishing?
b. What speech tics do you have? Is it a multitude of “um”, “kinda”, “wanna/gonna” or “you know” every half sentence?
c. Or is there some facet of the transcription software you have to adjust, such as remembering to transcribe in Australian English instead of US English to avoid having to correct words like “realize/realise”?
- Each time you record yourself talking, think about how to articulate yourself clearer. Be intentional, slow, and clear about what you say.
- Listen to podcasts and webinars. Notice how they rarely exhibit the same speechisms we don’t even hear ourselves say. Often, podcasters have editors behind the scenes removing “um”s, or they speak from rough notes, or even polished scripts.
- Keep speaking. Keep transcribing. If you are aware of your speech tics, they may reduce over time. If not, develop a checklist of steps to quickly edit and remove the ones that commonly appear so you can spend more time on the underlying edit of the message.
Nup, let me speak, but don’t make me write!
If you don’t want to spend time messing around with editing, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how I can create your content from your recordings, including support such as creating compelling headline, structuring your content so it gets found, and ensuring your readers know what do next. Alternatively, in a couple of quick sessions I can show you how you to speed it the process for yourself.
Happy talking in the meantime!
I’m Rananda, a Sydney-based writer and editor.
With 25-plus years in corporate life, a financial background, a science education, and a lifetime of writing, I know there is more to starting and growing a loyal following than just the words on your website or saving that draft manuscript in a folder.
I bring comprehensive practical experience to supporting your writing needs.