How to Dictate Effectively
Dictation is a helpful tool that can save a lot of time, but dictating may not come naturally at first. With practice, the right tools, and a good understanding of the process, you can learn how to dictate effectively and increase productivity. Here are a few tips to get you started:
If you are passing on your dictation to a transcriptionist, any dictation you do needs to be done from a foundation that the person typing for you does not know what you know. This means being as specific as possible. As soon as questions, issues or uncertainties arise, it becomes dramatically less efficient and impacts productivity. To reduce the amount of uncertainties that arise, you should make sure to be specific in terms of styling and formatting when you dictate. Going into this detail may seem cumbersome and sometimes come across as unnatural when you first begin dictating, however, once you get used to the process of dictating these extra bits and pieces, you will find that they will start to become second nature. Think of it as telling a story. The words you use are illustrating how you want the story to be visualized in the mind of the listener. If you want bullets, headings, subheadings, apostrophes – then these things need to be part of your overall strategy to dictating.
Many people question whether they should dictate punctuation. Punctuation, particularly apostrophes, commas, and other speech related punctuation, should be dictated because they have an affect on the tone, nuance and feel of the writing. The dictation of punctuation will help to articulate your meaning well, ensure that your writing contains useful structure, and ensure that there is no confusion or unnecessary amendments required after the product is produced. Dictating punctuation also has the added advantage that should you not have a transcriptionist, you will be able to use a dictation program more efficiently.
Practice makes perfect
Dictating a more complex document takes significantly more work and practice. It is important to remember for more complex documents that your dictation does not need to contain all of the information at the first draft stage. If there are complicated sections that would disrupt your train of thought or divert you from having a cohesive and efficient process, then those can be put to the side at first. Instead, simply dictate a placeholder and you can then come back to that at a later time once the document is closer to being finalized. The purpose when dictating a longer or more complex document is to allow you to get the bulk of the work done in a short amount of time. In more complex scenarios there will be a greater degree of attention required, and it is likely that you will have a number of drafts before the final document is completed. That is not a reason to avoid dictation, but rather a reason to embrace dictating in such a way that maximizes efficiency and productivity.
Looking for more info on the basics of dictating? Here are the links to our “How to Dictate” mini-series:
- Welcome to “How to Dictate”: More than just talking to yourself
- “Why Dictate”: The Power of Speech
- 4 Tips to Becoming a Dictation Pro
- Overcoming “Mic Fright”