For some interviews or meetings, making notes (or taking Minutes) is fine, however, there are certain times when having an audio recording would be far more beneficial. It ensures accuracy and, should the need arise, it can be used to ascertain exactly who said what.
The main types of interviews to consider recording are:
If you, or someone else, is making handwritten notes of what is said and by whom, there is the chance information can be missed, especially if there are several participants or the interview becomes heated. If the note-taker is also involved in the meeting, then the task becomes even harder.
It is far better to have an audio recording of the interview ensuring that every word that is spoken (and by whom) is picked up. This way all participants are involved fully and can forget about needing to capture any salient points. If the plan is to have a typed version, then the recording also ensures the resulting document will be accurate.
Certain meetings, like disciplinary or grievance interviews can be highly emotional and people do forget what they have said. At a later date, if there is a disagreement over whether a person said something or not, with handwritten notes there's no proof as to accuracy. If a recording is made, it can be played back to check.
In one follow-up meeting we transcribed, the subject of the disciplinary action complained that the transcript of the previous meeting hadn't recorded accurately what they had said. They were determined to prove the process was biased and even the typist of the transcript was against them. The interviewer was able to access the audio recording of the previous meeting and the relevant sections were played back to the person. The interviewer also went on to explain the transcripts were typed up by an outside agency, not connected with the company. precisely to ensure there was no bias.
Focus group and brain-storming sessions should also be recorded. You have a large number of participants who will, at times, interrupt and speak over each other. While, admittedly, listening to the recording and trying to hear all that was said in these situations would be hard, attempting to take handwritten notes at the time of the meeting would be almost impossible.
So, making an audio recording ensures you have the best chance of capturing all the ideas that come out of the brain-storming or focus group.
If you are making an audio or video recording of a speaker, a presentation/event, have you considered those who are hard of hearing or, for other reasons, cannot or don't want to listen to the video?
Even if everyone can hear perfectly, there may be other reasons for having key phrases or terms showing as captions. It might be a training film where important points should be shown on screen as they are spoken.
Why not get the recording transcribed so that everything that is said can be captioned or, alternatively, the transcript is edited so just certain words are shown.
If you plan to record the event, you need to do some sound and visual checks beforehand to make sure every word the person (or multiple participants) says is picked up and nothing gets in the way of the camera. The last thing you want is to find the recording has no sound as the microphone wasn't plugged in, or just as the recording starts someone places an object in the path of the camera lens, thereby obstructing the view. If you are going to have a Q&A session with people in the audience asking questions, have you thought about having "roving mics" so what they ask is also picked up on the recording?
Even if you decide not to subtitle the video itself, having a transcript of the recording as a PDF or a handout will be of great help to many people for reference at a later date.
So, when you next make a recording, imagine how getting a transcript done will reflect positively on your business, from the fact you had made the information accessible to as many people as possible.
Recording an interview, meeting, focus group or brain-storming session (from this point forward I will use "meeting" to represent all of these) is a great way to ensure you have an accurate record of everything that was said by the participants. However, you need to do more that just stick the microphone on the table. A little forethought will make the difference between being able to hear every word or people were too quiet or drowned out by background noise, especially if you're planning to do a transcript of the recording.