If you're a good writer and fast typist you can potentially learn how to be an on-site scribe.
An on-site scribe is a person who scribes what the people in front of them are saying while they are saying it. Most scribes type what people say straight into a computer or laptop then edit that draft to produce whatever document is needed.
To be an on-site scribe you need:
The better your writing and editing skills, the better your end product will be.
To scribe as fast as people speak, you need a touch-typing speed of 90 to 100 words per minute. You don't need to be completely accurate; just fast.
If your typing speed is slower than that, don't worry. As long as you're a touch-typist, all it takes to improve your speed is practice. Put pressure on yourself to type faster. Keep practicing until you are typing at last 90 words per minute.
To scribe as fast as people speak, you need to be able to type at 90 to 100 words per minute. You don't need to get down every single word in full, and you'll have to use abbreviations or you won't keep up. But you do need to be able to get down all the important words.
If you'd like to learn the skill of on-site scribing and have an audio transcription program, try this method:
Have a look at your transcript. Can you understand it enough to edit it into a readable transcript? Are you pretty sure you got down all the important words?
Yes? If you are game, crank the speed up to 100% (i.e. the actual speed at which the people are speaking) and try scribing at that speed. If you can't keep up, then slow the speed down to 80% again. Keep practising until you are able to scribe most of what they're saying while they talk at normal speed.
If your typing speed is about 90 words per minute, you can learn the skill of on-site scribing by setting up your laptop in front of the TV or radio, and start scribing:
If you can keep up with what people are saying, then edit what you have scribed into a readable transcript, you have the skills required to be a scribe. If you can almost keep up but missed some important words or your accuracy was so poor, you couldn't read what you had scribed, keep practising.
When people are talking at, say, 130 or 140 words per minute, this puts enormous pressure on a scribe. And by pressure, I don't only mean mental pressure. Your fingers and hands and the rest of your body are also put under great pressure when they're told it's imperative they get all the important information down, no matter what.
So even if you're a fast typist, you have to be good at working under pressure to be an on-site scribe.
You have to be good at continuing to type what they're saying now even though you know you just made heaps of little mistakes and missed some words in the last sentence. You also have to know which the important words are so that you make very sure you don't miss any important words; and your scribing has to be accurate enough so that you're afterwards able to translate your messy draft into good copy. You have to think really fast while your fingers are flying.
Whether you suffer or thrive under that sort of pressure depends on what sort of person you are.
Sally-Anne Watson Kane has over 20 years' experience scribing interviews, meetings, discussions, seminars and oral histories. She regularly produces selection reports, referees' reports, submissions and minutes. On Time Typing currently has on-site scribes in Bendigo, Melbourne and Gippsland.