How hard can it be to dictate? You press the record button and speak, right? How many times have you done just that only to find you had to dictate the same material again, and again, and again? Just imagine you’ve completed your dictation and then you play back your recording and think, “Wow! That is a great recording!” What? That hasn’t happened to you? Who has spare time on their hands to dictate over and over again to get that great recorded quality? Not me and I’m sure there aren’t many out there that do. Let’s face it, we’re all busy and often put more on our plate than we have time for, so let’s get things on track (no pun intended!) and start using your time wisely.
There are many reasons that certain material may require the need for dictation. Dictation can be anything from summary reports for a big case you’ve got coming up. Perhaps you’re recording a telephone interview. Wait a minute. Did you say recording? Yes, I did. Dictation AND recording. When you do one, you often do the other; they go hand in hand. And now it’s time to learn some tried and true dictation tips and techniques to get you on track to perfect recordings, the first time, every time.
Okay, let’s start at the beginning. It’s important to get to know your equipment, how it works and how to maintain it. Ensure you are aware of where all the buttons are located. If you are unsure, refer to your user manual. Try to remember to have your dictation equipment serviced at least annually; this will ensure that your equipment stays in good condition and that the recording quality remains high.
Speaking of recording quality…
That’s why you’re here, right? Be sure to record your dictation using the highest recording quality level available on your recorder. If you’re using a cordless device, be sure your battery is charged and/or you have extra batteries. The last thing you want happening is the recorder to shut off in mid-dictation.
Be aware of your surroundings
Make sure you are in a quiet area so your dictation can be heard clearly by the typist. Background noise is not only distracting, but it can also distort words when recording, increasing the risk of errors. A quiet area will also help you maintain your concentration during dictation. Noises that cause particular problems for the transcriptionist are shuffling papers, rattling of coffee cups, tapping on the table where the recorder is mounted, and eating or chewing while recording.
Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!
Be prepared before the dictation/recording begins. Have a general format that you will be following to allow for a smooth transition from question to question, statement to statement. Compile a list of questions or statements beforehand and review them prior to the recording so that you’re at ease and comfortable before the recording begins. This will help you avoid those awkward moments when you might trip over your words.
Identify yourself at the beginning of your recording:
Spell out the details of any pertinent information mentioned during your dictation, such as names, addresses, file numbers, etc. Spelling any difficult and/or unusual words or names with various different spellings will help your transcriptionist provide you with an accurate transcript.
Speak clearly and at a steady pace:
Try to breathe between sentences; you may pride yourself on being able to fit 10 minutes of dictation into two minutes of tape, but this will take much longer to type and the potential error rate in your transcript is much higher.
Remember, the best dictation is with placing your mouth at the recommended distance from the microphone.
Each brand of recording equipment has recommended optimum recording distances. (Refer to your user manual for guidelines.) If you are too close, your dictation may seem muffled, and if you are too far, the dictation may be too quiet; even worse…if you vary between the two, this can be very uncomfortable for the typist as he or she tries to adjust between a too loud and a too soft recording.
If you need to find a file or a piece of information during your dictation, stop the dictation equipment.
Once you have started your recorder, pause for a moment before your dictation begins, and when you have finished speaking, allow the recording to continue for a second. This will help ensure none of your dictation has been clipped off.
Are you interviewing someone?
It’s important to set some ground rules before you begin to record. Advise the person you’re interviewing you will be recording the conversation. Let them know it’s important to enunciate their words properly and speak at a normal pace. Remind them verbal answers are important; the recorder can’t pick up nods or shakes of the head. A “yes” or “no” answer is much easier to understand and transcribe than a um-hum or uh-huh. Also, if there are multiple speakers, try to avoid speaking over one another by reminding everyone to speak one at a time.
What have you got to lose? Give it a shot! Do yourself the favor of following the above dictating tips and techniques and see how improved your dictation recordings will be! This not only benefits you, but it also benefits your transcriptionist as well.
Remember the old saying garbage in, garbage out — well, by following the above dictation recording tips and suggestions you will avoid that “garbage out” result.