Back in December, Voicebrook employees from around the country came together for our annual company meeting. The theme was communication, and we were each challenged to think about how we can improve our communications with each other and with our clients. While researching the topic, I found that many tools for effective communication also apply to dictation. If you think about it, talking to a computer really doesn't differ much from talking to a person.
Listening and Adjusting
Communication is not just about talking; it is a two way process of listening and speaking, with listening being the key to understanding. Demonstrating you are listening shows the other person that what they are saying is being heard. In turn, people like to listen to those who listen to them. By actively listening you can determine how the other person thinks and reacts to different circumstances, allowing you to adjust your style to better engage with them.
When you dictate with VoiceOver the microphone is the one listening. If you experience recognition issues, you may need to make certain adjustments to help VoiceOver hear you better. Imagine the challenge in trying to understand someone in a noisy environment. If you are having recognition issues you can run the Audio Setup Wizard. There are also tips for a better speech recognition experience that you can follow that may help. Another step you can take to improve what is heard is to ensure proper microphone placement and setup. Just like talking to someone in a noisy room, your proximity can make a huge difference. Remember that your microphone should also have a windscreen to block out background noise and improve sound quality.
Thinking About What You Say Before You Say It
When we communicate, we should think about how our message will be received by the other person. While your message or intention may seem clear to you, think about how someone might interpret what you are saying. Be mindful of the context of a situation and the perspective of the other individual. Think about whether what you’re saying is something the other person can understand, and use words and phrases that the other person can follow.
The same holds true for dictation. VoiceOver interprets what you are saying by analyzing your dictation and referencing its vocabulary. Plan your words ahead of time to avoid mumbling or making mistakes. Just as with speaking to another person, context is important. If you dictate one word at a time, with no context, there is a higher chance for an incorrect word to appear. For example, if you were to dictate the word “to” with no context, VoiceOver would not know if you meant “to”, “too” or “two”. If you dictated “to” in a full sentence, the software would look at the entire utterance in its context to produce the word that makes the most sense. When speaking with another person there may be a term or phrase used that you are not familiar with. Most of the time, you can figure out the meaning of the word from the context of the sentence and expand your vocabulary as a result. With VoiceOver, if there is a word not being recognized, you can personalize your vocabulary to help it understand you.
Be Clear and Concise
Another great tip when communicating with others, is to be clear and concise with your message and keep it simple. State exactly what you want others to do. State your objectives or desires clearly so others don’t guess or misinterpret your meaning. Remember to be polite, professional, and positive while delivering your message.
When dictating you also need to be clear and conscious of how you are speaking in order for your words to be captured correctly. Think about how a newscaster would speak. For the best results, use your normal voice instead of speaking too loudly or too softly, use a clear and even tone, and remember, when your microphone is on, the program is listening. If you don’t want VoiceOver to hear (and transcribe) what you’re saying, make sure your microphone is off.
Pausing for 3-5 seconds after someone has spoken can be very helpful with communication. This is a tactic often used in sales because pausing helps you avoid interrupting. This can help build and maintain a level of trust or connection, and the speaker may give you more information.
Where else is pausing effective? With dictation and commands. After giving a voice command such as “New paragraph," pause after the command. This allows the utterance to be recognized as a command rather than dictation. If you are using a foot pedal to activate your microphone, pausing about half a second before and after you press the foot pedal allows enough time for your dictation to be captured correctly.
Be conscious of how you communicate and of how you dictate. Pay attention to what you can control, and provide the best environment. There are many adjustments you can make to yourself to improve communication with others, and there are many hardware and software adjustments you can make to improve your dictation. If you are ever having an issue with your interactions with VoiceOver, please don’t hesitate to contact support.