Technology and Technical Writing: How to Leverage Interview Tools to Your Advantage

As a member of the technical writing realm, you may be familiar with Word, InDesign, Flare, FrameMaker, or RoboHelp, but there are other, more common tools that can help you simplify and improve your work. When starting a project, interviewing a subject matter expert (SME) can be a daunting task. Using video conferencing and online collaboration tools, your smartphone, and free transcribing software can ease the pain and save you time.

Video Conferencing Software

Traveling to worksites to gather source material can be expensive and even delay a project. Hosting an online meeting through video conferencing and online collaboration tools such as Citrix’s GoToMeeting, Cisco’s WebEx, or Google Hangout can get the project up and running quickly.

Through this software, you can perform some of the following tasks with multiple users from your computer or mobile device:

  • Audio conference
  • Video conference
  • View another user’s screen or share your own
  • Live chat comments
  • Document sharing

One of the most useful features is that you can record anything that happens in an online meeting. If you need to refer back to the workflow demonstration you saw on the SME’s screen, all you have to do is open the video file logged by the software.

Smartphone Recording

Missing details during a phone call or a face-to-face interview can be detrimental to the success of a project. When preparing for your next interview, ask the SMEs for permission to record the discussion. Most smartphones are equipped with an audio recording application, so when you sit down for your next conference call, set your smartphone by the speaker, and record the call and refer back to it when organizing your notes.

Transcription Software

Transcribing notes from a recording can be a difficult task. The audio plays in one program while you try to type in another. Without special transcription software, you have to stop typing, switch to the audio playback window, pause the audio, switch back to the word processor, type your note, switch again to the audio playback window, rewind the audio so you have time to switch back to your word processor in time to write your next note. Those days are over. By using a free transcription tool, such as or Listen N Write, you can avoid the headache. You can import the audio file and play it while you type your notes in the same window. Once you’re finished, you can copy and paste your notes into a word processor, or some programs even save the text as an editable document.

Express Scribe is a similar free cross-platform tool but with an innovative pay-for add-on. For less than $100, you can purchase a foot pedal that can play and pause the audio for you while you type.

There are other transcription tools that can automatically convert audio to written text, such as cross-platform VoxSigma or MacSpeech Scribe for Apple users.

If you need help simplifying or improving your next technical writing project, ProEdit is here to help. Connect today!

Leave a Reply