How to Write a Transcript of a Speech

Things You'll Need

  • Audio and/or visual recording of the speech
  • Word processor
  • Transcription software (optional)
  • Dictionary

Transcribing the spoken word is a task that requires excellent listening, typing and spelling skills. It's not only important to accurately transcribe the spoken words of a speech but also to include the proper spacing and punctuation to ensure the transcription reflects the way in which the words were spoken. This article will help you write an accurate transcription of a speech.

Obtain an audio or audiovisual recording of the speech you want to transcribe.

Listen to (or watch and listen to) the tape, noting any places where the speech is unclear or word usage is unfamiliar. Use this time to adjust the sound on the recording to a level that is comfortable for you.

Use a dictionary to look up any words you weren't familiar with; it's imperative that you correctly spell words and use the right words in your transcript. Rely on context clues in the speech to be sure you're using the right word when you encounter a homonym; "bear" and "bare," for example, sound the same but are spelled differently.

Start the recording at the beginning and begin transcribing it. To ensure accuracy, stop the recording whenever necessary so you don't fail to transcribe any words or phrases.

Once you have completely transcribed every word of the recorded speech, review your copy for spelling, punctuation and spacing errors. The speaker might have made grammatical errors, but you should transcribe the speech exactly as it was delivered.


Don't hesitate to double-check your work by periodically referencing the recording of the speech.

For longer speeches, consider using transcription software (see Resources).

Take your time when transcribing a speech, even if it means going slowly at first, to avoid errors.

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