Webcasting: To Transcribe or Not To Transcribe?

Recently, I asked one of our clients why she uses transcription for all of her webcasts. Her response was one I did not expect: she has all of her webcasts transcribed to give her viewers another venue to learn all of the information. Many of her viewers approached her asking that she supply a transcript because they could not learn all of the information in a one-plus hour long web event by just watching it. They were better able to digest the information by reading over the contents after the event. Our client, who is a marketing professional, went on to say that many of her customers and prospects do not have the time to sit through an entire hour long webcast but do have the time to quickly read through a transcript. She feels that it is an important part of her marketing mix to use transcription to get her message out to the public.

So, armed with this information, I wanted to see if any other webcasting professionals had a similar take on the use of transcription. I posted a question on LinkedIn asking if anyone else had experienced viewers wanting alternatives to watching archived webcasts and what their thoughts were on offering transcripts. Here are some of the comments:

One point that may change your mind about the importance of including a transcript is the personal preference and personal learning style of your viewers. Some people would rather read and follow along while looking at any supporting slides than to listen to a speaker. The material is just as important to the viewer and will have a higher impact. I am a strong proponent of including a transcript, an MP3 audio file that can be downloaded for those who like to listen to a podcast and a full fledged interactive archive of all or our webcasts…David Pozerycki

I deliver e-learning training solutions in a train the trainer format and from feedback which I have gathered over time, recording webinars are extremely useful to reinforce the learning objectives. It allows participants to review key aspects of the webinar which are fundamental to the learning outcomes. I really don’t think a recorded webinar can reach the same learning outcomes as a live interactive webinar. With this in mind, I see the recording (or transcripts) as added support to learning rather then as the primary tool to reach the learning outcomes.

The recording can also save the participant endlessly scribing notes through out the webinar instead of paying attention to the presenter and seeing what is being show on the screen.

As from a Trainers point a view, I believe having material which limits needless note taking is only a positive. They still may require to make further notes, which are unique to the learner (as David above explains), however engagement to training content can be maximised with the key element already written down…Greg Watson

and finally,

…providing information in multiple formats absolutely bolsters different learning styles. It also increases inclusiveness of the content by making it accessible to people with disabilities: text for the Deaf and hard of hearing, audio for people who are blind or have a vision impairment. This means the content is being made available to a wider audience… Assistive Technology Consultant, Australia

One poster even commented that he hated being forced to sit through a “linear narrative” and would much rather just skim text until he found his answer. Other posters on the discussion thread agreed that offering multiple formats for getting the information to the audience is the best route to go. Many use a format combining video, audio and transcribed/written materials.

Do you think that transcription is a necessary part of your webcast? Please comment below and let us know your thoughts.