Some Simple Tips For Voice Dictation

By Jamie McSloy / May 6, 2018
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Some Simple Tips For Voice Dictation

Regular readers will be aware that I have recently been suffering through interest my hands which have made typing not so great.

At the suggestion of some friends of the blog, I decided to try out text-to-speech software for the first time in ages.

Now the last time around I never really got the hang of text-to-speech. I’m quite a fast typist and I found that when I used dictation software, it wasn’t accurate enough that it saved me anytime. I could speak quicker than I can type, but I spent more time editing than speaking.

This time around, I got the latest version of Dragon and it is a lot more accurate than the software I was using before. I’ve also by necessity had to spend time working on it and so this is an article about how to make text-to-speech software a part of your writing arsenal.

Plan Ahead

The big problem with speaking as opposed to typing is that with typing, you are inherently limited by your typing speed. This means that by the time you type something out, it is probably fully fleshed out in your mind.

This isn’t the case with speaking. I found that I’ll get have either a sentence and not have the second half of the sentence in my mind ready to go. It takes about one second to say a sentence.

How I have come to deal with this is to at least have a plan in mind before I start speaking.

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Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)

This plan is often just a couple of bullet points on a Post-it note, but it means that I don’t ramble on forever.

Speak Slowly And Clearly

This learning experience is a case of, “should have read the manual.” When you use dictation software, it tells you to speak clearly and slowly like you are a newsreader.

In typical fashion for me, I completely ignored this and automatically and immediately tried to see just how many words I could write in a single minute using the text-to-speech software.

This was a mistake. Here’s the thing: when you use a good dictation software, you can basically go as fast as you like. However, if you slur your words or are otherwise tripping over your words because you’re trying to speak too quickly, then you will spend a lot of time editing and this is not only bad for your productivity, but it is a complete pain in the arse as well.

So speak slowly and clearly at least until your dictation software has adapted to how you speak and you’ve run a lot of corrections.

Even if you speak slowly and clearly, you will massively outpace what you can do if you are typing.

Now I’m getting the hang of it, I write several thousand words in an hour. And when I say several thousand, I mean with good typing I will usually write about 2000 words per hour. With dictation software, I massively outpace that.

Depending on the subject and how rigorously I stick to the speak slowly and clearly meant for, I can write 4000 to 6000 words in an hour easily.

I’m saying this not to brag, but to say that you might as well slow down because you are going to create enough content if you know what you are writing and you use dictation software. There is no need to rush.

Content Syndication

If you run a podcast or otherwise of thought about running a podcast, then you might want to look into using dictation software. The reason for this is that the only difference between running a podcast and creating an article with dictation software is that you have to speak the punctuation into your work.

Now if you record what you’re saying at the same time as doing your dictation, then you can simply take the audio file you create at the end and edit out the punctuation. This requires a bit of practice, because you will need to first learn how to edit an audio file in audacity or whatever program you use, and secondly you will need to learn to dictate in a way that makes cutting out the punctuation easy.

However, this makes content syndication very easy because you are doing the work once when you speak out an article, and then you are turning it into at least two pieces of content without any extra effort aside from editing and audio file.

Final Thoughts

This experiment has been quite good. I’m not sure whether dictation software will take the place of typing fully in my workflow, but it wouldn’t shock me if it played massive role further down the line.

For instance, I am pretty sure that I can “write” fiction using this approach a lot faster than I can with typing. The reason is that when you write fiction, you can rely much more on rambling and long descriptive sentences. This sort of thing is bad when you are talking about technical materials or blog posts, but it is great when you’re talking write fiction.

Secondly, I have a bunch of templates are used for writing fiction, especially short fiction, and they lend themselves quite well to improvising box following the structure, which is how I currently use dictation software to come up with articles.

I’m also considering following my own advice above and may be creating a podcast. Haven’t decided whether that is actually going to happen, but the dictation software will certainly make it a lot easier. As always, you’ll be the first to know if I do this.