Good Speaker Labeling is Key

It often is not possible for the transcriptionist to know the names of each speaker unless they state their names clearly or if the client provides the names. So in lieu of names, descriptors like “interviewer”, “speaker” or “participant” are used.

When there are two speakers and it’s a question and answer format, the natural descriptor for the person asking the questions is INTERVIEWER. While the person answering the questions is technically the interviewee, that word is too close in appearance to “interviewer”, so a better term for labeling the interviewer is RESPONDENT.

When there are multiple speakers, and it is in a meeting or focus group format, SPEAKER or PARTICIPANT are common descriptors. The transcriptionist the vast majority of the time works with audio rather than video, so it is often not easy to discern the speaker names. Female voices are particularly difficult to differentiate. But rather than writing PARTICIPANT each time, there are a few steps that can be taken to get a better idea of who is speaking, when the names aren’t known.

It is usually easy to pinpoint the moderator so that speaker has the MODERATOR label. If the group is composed of both males and females, the descriptors can be FEMALE PARTICIPANT or MALE PARTICIPANT. And if anyone in the group has an accent, descriptors such as MALE VOICE/NONENGLISH ACCENT or FEMALE VOICE/SPANISH ACCENT should be used.

So when it’s a group of people being transcribed, you can still get a good idea of who is speaking. Make sure your transcription company follows those guidelines. And if you specifically want to know who said a certain passage, you can use the timestamps to cross-check the passage in the transcript with the audio. That’s why it’s also important that your transcripts contain timestamps.

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