Do You Need to Be Thinking About Microsoft Teams Meeting Transcription?

Woman on Microsoft Teams call

9 in 10 businesses in the UK are using Microsoft Teams for quick chats, voice calls and video meetings. In the era of hybrid working, collaborative tools like Microsoft Teams are needed to provide a secure way for teams to stay in touch. 

Microsoft Teams and other communication platforms provide a level of flexibility that wasn’t possible with more traditional face-to-face meetings. However, video calls and remote meetings do come with a new set of challenges. 

Attendees can still be late to a meeting, be unable to make the allocated time or suffer from a dreaded technical issue. We’ve all uttered the words ‘you’re on mute’ more times than we’d care to remember. The ability to join calls from wherever there is internet access also means we’re operating in a wider variety of environments, where background noise can be outside of our control. 

To overcome some of the issues associated with video calls, offering captions and securing a transcript from Teams meetings can help. Captions and transcripts can make these sessions more accessible, help people follow the conversation as it’s happening and provide a writing record for those unable to attend. Due to the popularity of the service, it’s no surprise that “can you transcribe a Teams meeting?’ is becoming a commonly searched question. 

Luckily there is a range of options available that allow you to caption and transcribe Teams meetings, from live captioning within the Microsoft Teams platform, to outsourcing to gain an accurate and secure transcription of a recording. 

Can Microsoft Teams transcribe my meeting? 

In a word, yes. Microsoft Teams has two key options you can choose from which are built into the platform to help you transcribe Teams meeting calls. The pros and cons of each service are outlined below to help you determine which option is the best fit, or if you need to consider external services which offer a greater level of accuracy. 

  • Captions  
  • Live transcription 

Captions 

Closed captions appear at the bottom of the screen transforming the speech into text as it is spoken with speaker attribution also available. Captions are a great option if you’re looking to make your meeting more accessible.  

The captions are generated using Microsoft Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology and the service is available in 34 languages. Although the accuracy of ASR continues to improve, you should anticipate that the captions will come with a level of inaccuracy, particularly if you’re using technical or industry-specific language.  

An alternative is to opt for human-generated captions by enlisting the services of a communication access real-time translation (CART) captioner. The meeting organiser can set this up and provide the link to your chosen CART software. 

Additionally, Microsoft’s captions are only available within the live meeting, they are not saved or stored even if your meeting is recorded. If you need a written record of the spoken word, you’ll need to use the live transcription feature, consult a captioning partner, or seek the services of transcription experts, such as Take Note.

Live transcription 

Microsoft Teams live transcription is also captured in near real-time and is available instantly within the meeting. However, unlike captions, transcripts are stored, allowing the information to be accessed later. The Microsoft Teams transcription service is also used to display captions in the recorded version of your meeting, so you’ll need to select this option if you want your meeting recordings to be accessible. 

Currently, Teams transcription is only available in US English, so it may present some limitations for companies in the UK who would prefer UK English, and others around the world using the platform. You’ll also need to check the feature is available on your subscription package 

Microsoft’s transcripts are also generated using ASR technology, so inaccuracies are to be expected. If the meeting contains jargon, there is background noise, heavy accents or attendees speaking over each other, you should expect the accuracy levels to be even lower.  

If transcription is turned on, the participants will be informed and a message will appear on the screen to remind the organiser to let everyone know, as happens with recordings. The transcript itself will appear on the right-hand side of the screen for all participants. Individuals can also choose to close this window. 

Microsoft Teams Transcription started message

 

Multi-language meetings 

To use either of Microsoft’s built-in tools, you must specify a language for the meeting. The language selected will apply to both captions and live transcription and is set at the overall meeting level. It therefore applies to everyone in the meeting. If multiple languages are going to be used during a meeting, the built-in tools are likely to not be the best option for you.  

How do I enable transcription in Microsoft Teams? 

You can turn on transcription within the Microsoft Teams platform in just a few quick clicks. You’ll need to be the meeting organiser, or a presenter in the case of webinars, to have the option to switch on transcription. The option is found in the Microsoft Teams meeting screen, just below the option to start a recording. You’ll also find the option to turn on live captions here as well as other settings. 

Microsoft Teams built-in transcription option

 

It’s best to do a practice run before any meetings where the requirement is essential. A dummy run will give you the opportunity to troubleshoot any problems and look for an alternative if the Microsoft Teams meeting transcription service isn’t suitable.  

If you don’t see the option to ‘Start transcription’, you’ll need to speak to your administrator or technical support. They’ll be able to check if your subscription includes the feature and turn it on for your organisation. 

How do I get transcripts from a Teams meeting? 

When you turn on the in-built transcription option, your Teams meeting transcript will automatically be saved for you. You’ll be able to view the transcript as soon as your meeting is finished through the meeting chat or in the Teams calendar. All those who were invited to the meeting will have access. The saved version can be accessed via the ‘Recording & Transcriptions’ tab in Teams, available in both the desktop and web versions. 

Microsoft Teams Meeting Transcript Tab

The transcription file itself is saved in the meeting organiser’s Exchange Online account and only the organiser is able to delete the file. As standard, the transcript will include speaker attribution unless a user has turned off this option in his or her personal settings. 

 

How to transcribe a Microsoft Team meeting recording 

Woman taking notes on a Teams meeting

If you’ve decided not to use the in-built features or simply forgot to turn on the feature during the meeting, you can still gain a Microsoft Teams meeting transcript using the video recording of your meeting. Video transcription services provide you with the facility to upload the recording online. You then just need to choose the relevant service and when you need the transcript back.  

Services include ASR software, human transcription providers and hybrid options to cater to your requirements. Most human transcription services, including those from Take Note offer 99% accuracy and turnaround times starting from 12 hours. ASR can be delivered in almost real-time, but accuracy rates will be much lower. 

Using an external service offers you some flexibility in terms of the format of the transcript. You may also want to consider if you need a full verbatim output or whether a summary would be more beneficial. For example, meeting minutes deliver a more concise document which is particularly helpful for those who were unable to attend. Meeting minutes document the key discussion points, decisions, and subsequent actions in an easy-to-review format, ideal for those who don’t have the time to read the full transcript. 

What if I’m unable to record my meeting? 

A Microsoft Teams meeting recording transcript is the easiest option if the built-in features don’t meet your requirements. However, if you’re unable to record the meeting, you may wish to opt for a professional live notetaker to join the session instead. With the Take Note service, our experienced live notetakers can be directed to either capture as much detail as possible during the session or be asked to produce formal meeting minutes.  

You should now have all the answers to the question ‘can I transcribe my Teams meeting?’ For the highest–quality, more accurate transcripts, it’s better safe than sorry. Avoid turning to the built-in Microsoft transcripts and instead get in touch with Take Note which can connect directly to your Teams meetings and offer highly accurate and secure transcription and notetaking capabilities. 

Kat Hounsell