Benevolent Dictator


IT'S ALL FREE! How to be a Benevolent Dictator

I'm not talking about creating a government in some third world country.  I'm referring to dictating your work product so that either a transcriptionist or voice recognition software can interpret it with few errors.  If you are lucky enough to have a secretary, don't know how to type, are a slow typist, or have a physical disability that prevents you from typing, dictation may be the answer for you.

Let's look first at dictating for a human being, either a transcriptionist or a secretary, using a dictation machine.  Here are some guidelines for using dictation machines:

1) Take a few moments to create an outline, even if it's just in your head, of what you want to say.

2) Don't eat, drink, or chew gum while dictating.  Your transcriptionist or secretary will appreciate it and you'll be able to pronounce words more distinctly.

3) Explain the purpose of the dictation and explain how you want it formatted, e.g., "This is a medical summary for the Hardgrave case, #34-4437.  Please put all headings in bold, use full justification for the  paragraphs and single space each paragraph."  If you're dictating a letter or a report that is familiar to your transcriptionist/secretary, you won't need to specify how you want the information formatted.

4) After you've given your instructions, say, "Start of dictation" and then begin to speak.

5) Make sure you identify punctuation and other formatting.  "New paragraph Mrs. Hardgrave comma her son comma and her daughter all lived together period.  Janet Hardgrave open parenthesis formerly known as Janet Smith close parenthesis was diagnosed with liver cancer period."  This is what you'll end up with: Mrs. Hardgrave, her son, and her daughter all lived together.  Janet Hardgrave (formerly known as Janet Smith) was diagnosed with liver cancer.

6) If you use a word that your secretary/transcriptionist might not understand, say the word, then spell it out.

7) Use the pause button if you're not sure what to say next.

8) Finish by saying, "End of dictation."

Voice recognition software turns your spoken words into text.  There's a learning curve with any speech recognition  software because you'll need to learn all the  commands.  Windows has free speech recognition software but it's not easy to find.  I think the easiest way to access voice recognition in Windows 7 is to go to Start and type "speech recognition."  In Windows 10, go to Start, Setting  and then type "speech recognition."  For best results, use a headset microphone, set the microphone up to work with the software, and take the speech tutorial.  You can also purchase voice recognition software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking or free transcription tools.

Let's look at the eight points listed above and see how they might change using voice recognition software.  The commands I'm using are for the Windows speech recognition program.

1) Creating an outline is still important when you use speech recognition software.

2) Don't eat, drink, or chew gum because it will increase the error rate of your dictation.

3) You won't need to explain the purpose of the dictation and you'll dictate your formatting as you go along.  Use short phrases with brief pauses when you're formatting.  For example, "medical summary (pause) select medical summary (pause) bold (pause) all caps (pause) center."  These commands will type MEDICAL SUMMARY and center it on the page for you.  After the speech recognition program learns your speech patterns, you'll be able to dictate longer phrases.

4) You won't need to indicate the start of dictation.  Open the application (such as Microsoft Word) and place your cursor where you want to start.  Then tell the software to "Start Listening" and begin talking.  Or use the voice recognition software to open the application by saying, "Click Start (pause) click All Programs (pause) click Microsoft Office (pause) click Microsoft Word."  The cursor will appear at the top left of the document.  You can move the cursor by saying "Enter," "Tab," "Center" and other commands.

5) You will need to identify all punctuation and all formatting, including new lines and paragraphs.  See #5 above for punctuation and formatting examples; they're spoken the same way for speech recognition software. 

6) If the software misspells a word such as "his team cytosis" instead of "histiocytosis" say, "Correct his team cytosis" and then spell out each letter of the correct word.

7) If you want the software to pause, say, "Stop listening."  Say, "Start listening" when you're ready to dictate again.  Or just don't speak if you want to pause.  But don't talk on the phone or yell at your kids unless you want it transcribed on your work product.

8) You won't need to say, "End dictation" when you've finished speaking.  You can save your dictation by saying, "Click file (pause) Save as (your file name) (pause) Save".

You can see that each type of dictation has its advantages and disadvantages.  No matter which method you choose, you're now ready to be a benevolent dictator!

...Katy Jones