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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Improving Productivity With Digital Dictation

Improving Productivity With Digital Dictation

Because we can speak faster than we type, digital dictation tools can help you improve your productivity and efficiency. Whether it’s dictating a quick text message response or a multi-page client proposal, dictation provides a fast way to capture and enter your initial thoughts.

Dictation tools are built-in to mobile and PC operating systems to give users a seamless way to enter text by using their voice, and voice interfaces are playing a larger role in smart devices such as connected speakers and cars.

With voice expected to become the primary way we interact with our mobile devices in the next couple of years, it makes sense for business owners to start taking advantage of digital dictation and the many benefits it can offer.

Faster Speed

Two main advantages are driving the growing use of digital dictation: speed and convenience. Most of us can speak two or three times faster than we can enter text, especially with a mobile device’s virtual keyboard, so taking advantage of voice interfaces offers a great way to get more work done in less time.

In addition, dictation allows us to capture notes in situations where typing may not be appropriate, such as while we’re driving.

On mobile devices, the Android and iOS operating systems trigger dictation capabilities by hitting a small microphone icon in the lower left corner of the device’s virtual keyboard. You need an Internet connection for dictation to work because your voice is uploaded to a server for recognition and conversion into text.

For PC users, basic dictation software is built into the Windows and OSX operating systems. Windows users can hit the Win+H hotkey, and OSX users can hit the function key twice. In both instances, doing so allows you to dictate text into messaging, notes or word processing applications.

Keep Expectations Realistic

While the recognition accuracy of digital dictation has increased dramatically in recent years as devices become more powerful, it’s helpful to understand you’re not going to get a perfect transcript of your dictated remarks on the first try.

One software publisher claims 99 percent accuracy, but that’s likely under ideal conditions you’re not probably going to be able to replicate. Most apps average about 90 percent accuracy – a worthwhile tradeoff given the faster input speed, but you’ll still have to review your text for mistakes.

With this level of accuracy, you’re better off considering dictated text as a first or rough draft and understand you’ll probably have to clean it up when you’re dictating. For instance, it’s common for the software to confuse words that sound similar, such as “and” and “in,” or “to” and “two.”

It’s also helpful to understand that background noise can affect the quality of your software’s speech recognition. Using the software in a quiet room, for example, is going to provide better results than a crowded restaurant.

If you’re dictating in your car, a Bluetooth headset will help reduce road noise and improve recognition over your device’s built-in microphones.

If you use dictation frequently, you may wish to invest in dedicated software for your PC. Some applications include specialized vocabularies customized for common words used in specific industries, such as health care or law.

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