microphoneGood morning, everyone. I do hope you can hear me okay. Yes, you read that correctly. I am talking to you. Or rather, I am sitting here at my desk talking to my computer. (The best thing about this is it doesn’t answer me back!) And, I have to say, I am impressed by the accuracy of the dictation software.

I have always known that my computer has dictation software pre-installed, but I have never had a need to use it. However, after reading an article on how easy it is to use, I thought I would give it to go. This software included as part of the operating software for my computer. It is possible to buy dictation software created by other companies for use on both Apple and Windows computers, and Dragon dictation software is probably the most well-known.

If you live somewhere with a fantastic mobile phone signal (which is a bit hit and miss where I live) then you may be used to talking to your phone and asking it what the weather is like in Japan today, or where the nearest cafe is that sells iced doughnuts topped with hundreds and thousands. The mobile phone connection is needed because your speech instructions are received by your phone, transmitted via the internet to Apple’s/Microsoft’s/Google’s servers in America, interpreted, the results identified and then sent back to your phone for it to speak back to you.

Dictation software is different. It sits on your computer (although some offer the option of using the Internet for processing). And it is incredibly easy to use. Once activated, all you have to do is start talking. You do need to think about punctuation, though. And that means stating the punctuation mark that you require. So when I want a full stop, I simply say, “full stop”.

Because of this, I found myself thinking carefully about what it is I wanted to say first, before actually saying it. It forced me to consider my sentence structure and my choice of words. You may notice that I have not used many contractions in this piece. That is because I have found the software to be more accurate without them. Of course, the longer you use such software the better trained at recognising the words you say it becomes. I have only been playing with this for about a quarter of an hour. Interestingly, I have spoken over 600 words in that time frame. Now, not all of these words are perfect, but at least I have a really good first draft from which to work.

It goes without saying, that this software works best when you are in a room on your own with no other noises or distractions to confuse it. This also means you will not be embarrassed talking to your computer screen! So if you find staring at a blank computer screen off-putting, then why not start talking to one? It can be quite surprising how quickly the words fly onto the screen. Indeed, you may find the ease with which they appear there encourages you to continue talking. And, who knows? Instead of writing your next piece you may find dictating it easier. Once you realise how quickly you can dictate these first drafts, talking to yourself becomes less embarrassing!

One occasion when I will really find this useful is when it comes to typing up handwritten work. I often write fiction first drafts in my notebooks. Instead of typing up the text, I’m going to try dictating it instead.

So why not give dictation a go? It could open up a whole new way of working to you.

Good luck. Or should that be, “Over and out?”