Dictation

The average person speaks about six times faster than he or she writes in longhand. Therefore, it stands t reason that ‘paperwork by mouth’ is faster than paperwork by hand.

What keeps most people from trying to dictate is a lack of confidence in their dictating skills – soften based on only one or two efforts at dictating the wrong things in the wrong manner.

To be effective at dictating, you have to prepare and practice. An off-the-top-of-the-head dictating session usually results I a scrambled first draft that takes just as much time to edit in longhand as it would have taken if the first draft had been written in longhand to begin with. The results of a dictated document are directly proportional to the thinking that has gone on beforehand.

Whether a few note jotted on a notepad or a formal outline, a plan is needed to dictate a document that’s well organized and needs only minor editing to become a final draft.

The second consideration in dictating effectively is to match the task to the method. In other words, dictation is most useful for tasks such as giving extensive instructions to staff, drafting speeches and composing long reports.

* Instructions:

Good instructions mean thorough instructions. When you start to write instructions in longhand and the task becomes time-consuming, the tendency is to omit more and more detail, just providing the basic steps.

The real possibility for error, however, lies in the details. What seems obvious to the instruction-giver is not always obvious to the doer. Therefore, simply by talking the instructions in such a fast method, you tend to add more explanation, resulting in more thorough instruction. It’s also a good idea to give complex instructions ‘live’ to others so that they can ask for clarification. The dictating equipment becomes simply a recorder. If a question comes up later about completing the task, the dictation becomes the back-up.

* Speeches:

Dictation particularly improves speck-writing because a draft sounds much more conversational when spoken rather than written. The work choice tends to be informal and rhythmic, the sentences shorter, and the tone more colloquial – all goals that speechwriters strive for.

* Long reports:

Dictating a long report carries a psychological advantage. Part of the difficulty in writing results from procrastination, from getting started on what seems like an over-whelming task. The sheer speed at which you can attack an overwhelming, time-intensive task gives you a psychological advantage. You can talk a 200- to 300- page document into a recorder in a matter of 6 to 16 hours. Then just having ‘something on paper’ to work with moves you into the editing phase of writing – a much easier task for most people.

Effective dictation involves both appropriate preparation and tasks. Choose an appropriate task (instructions, speeches, long reports), and prepare an outline of your ideas. Talk you thoughts into the recorder. Then take your time editing.

* Personal Computer is useful for you:

Personal computers have allowed us to combine the best of both worlds — the speed of dictating and the ease of reviewing documents on printed page. Like dictation, composing on the computer allows you to get your ideas down much more quickly than when writing in longhand. The added benefit of the computer screen is seeing how long your paragraphs are, where you need to break them, how complex sentences are, and where bulleted lists would be most effective. Your eye works with your brain I determining structure and layout.

Some professionals once considered computers appropriate only for lower-level employees. But nowadays, computer-literate people can compose a document themselves on the computer more quickly than they can explain their intentions to someone else.

After composing, you can turn the document over the an assistant for the final touches: adding the address, running the spellchecker, paginating.

If your goal is to compose something quickly, writing it yourself may make more sense than explaining what you want to someone else, seeing his effort, editing his effort, r-explaining where he went wrong, and rereading what he revises for you a second and third time.

Composing on the computer allows you to see the final version as it evolves in your thought process. The result is often a better document.


Leave a Comment