Researchers across the world run focus groups to capture rich data for analysis. One of the keys to running successful focus groups is recording great audio.
It is only by recording great audio that an accurate and timely transcript of the focus group session can be produced, for analysis. Recording great audio consistently is easy if you follow a few key rules.
RULE ONE: Use a Good Quality Digital Recorder
This is a must. It doesn’t matter how well you run the focus group or how prepared you are, if you don’t use a good quality digital recorder you simply won’t capture great audio, and you and your focus group participants’ time will have been wasted.
Buy or hire a good quality digital recorder, and learn how to operate it before you record your focus group sessions. Make sure the recorder records in a recommended format, such as .mp3, .wma, .wav, .dss or .ds2. Know where the pause button is, have the recorder on the highest quality setting, and ensure the recorder is fully charged.
We recommend you also have a backup power source, such as replacement batteries or an AC adapter, on hand.
There are a number of high quality digital recorders available which won’t break the bank. The Olympus DM-901 is recommended for recording focus groups and meetings, and can comfortably accommodate recording 8-10 voices.
If you wish to record larger numbers, consider boosting the recording capacity of the DM-901 with external microphones, such as the Olympus ME-33 boundary layer microphones, which can be daisy chained to the recorder.
For university researchers and market research companies who need a robust, flexible and more portable solution, consider the Philips DPM8900 Conference Recorder Kit. This top of the range recording solution is pricey, but well worth the money if you need to transport your recording equipment regularly.
The DPM8900 comes with a high quality digital recorder, four exceptional quality boundary layer microphones, a cradle, dictation software and remote control, which all fits snugly and safely in the sturdy metal case, provided.
RULE TWO: Consider the Recording Environment
Choosing a recording environment which is comfortable for all participants, removed from unnecessary distractions and appropriate for the session is essential. Consider the size of the venue and avoid places with intrusive background noise, such as public chatter, loud air conditioning or heating units, radios or loudspeaker announcements, and high volume traffic.
Be prepared and set up the space prior to commencing recording, ensuring tables and chairs are well-positioned, and participants are equidistant from the recording device.
Reduce unwanted interruptions by closing the doors when recording is about to progress, and to ensure privacy and confidentiality of participants during the session. If appropriate, put a sign on the door – “meeting in progress”.
RULE THREE: Follow Standard Meeting Protocols
Of course, once you have acquired a good quality recorder and your recording environment is set up, you still need to facilitate the session well to ensure capture of good quality audio.
As well as being prepared according to your research topic, consider how you wish participants to interact with each other. Overspeaking, where participants talk over the top of each other, is very common, but very disruptive and can lead to difficult-to-hear audio, and therefore difficulty in transcribing the audio accurately. Minimise this human response by asking participants to speak one at a time, respecting each and every one’s contribution to the session.
Recording great audio can at first seem a daunting task, but by considering these three rules and adapting them to suit your own particular needs, you will find recording great audio actually very easy.
For more information on recording great audio please contact the Sterling Transcription team for assistance and advice.