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Becoming a great dictator

Although the process of dictation and transcription has been around for a long time, digital machines and Smartphones with dictation apps have made it far more efficient and far more accessible. But wider uptake means that many individuals receive little in the way of training, before dictating important work and a few simple guidelines will help make transcription of their sound files easier and more accurate, saving them time and money.

It’s very much personal choice whether you choose a dedicated dictation machine or a Smartphone with the latest dictation app., but the advantage of the Smartphone is the fact you generally always have it with you, available for your thoughts and comments to be recorded.

Whatever the device, the first rule is the same and the simplest; don’t hold it too close or too far away. The microphone should be about six inches (15cm) from your mouth to prevent words becoming drowned out by other sounds if it’s too far away and muffled by other sounds, like breath sounds or the puff of air that hits the microphone when you use plosive words like ‘policy’ or ‘banking’, if you hold it to close.

Ensuring background noise is kept to a minimum is important for clear dictation and at the very least you should avoid shuffling papers or tapping away at the keyboard whilst dictating. It can be difficult in the modern open-plan office to get the peace and quiet required, but it’s better to find somewhere less noisy, than constantly having to re-record sections when interrupted by loud voices and ringing phones.

It is worth experimenting with the microphone’ssensitivity settings to reduce the distance at which the microphone will pick up sounds, to ensure your voice is the loudest thing the transcription typist hears. And remember after pressing record, pause before you speak (and again before you stop recording) to prevent your first and last words being clipped.

When dictating, the most obvious and most important point to consider, is the need to speak slowly and clearly; remember, the better your diction, the better the dictation.

If you send your dictation externally for transcription, it is worth bearing in mind most service providers will charge by the length of the dictation. So although you may be tempted to speak more quickly to save a few pence, it’s more important to know what you’re going to say and avoid as many ‘ums’ and ‘erms’ as possible – these will lengthen your dictation, cost you more and add nothing to its meaning, as good transcription typists will ignore them (unless you have requested a verbatim transcription).

Experienced, qualified legal transcription typists will only punctuate the transcription as directed by your instructions; an unwanted comma can significantly change the meaning to that intended, particularly in financial and legal transcriptions.

If you want to put something in brackets, say ‘open parentheses, dictate the contents and when finished say ‘close parentheses. It’s common sense really, but worth remembering that time spent on inserting punctuation into your dictation, is time saved on formatting the returned transcription.

If the final document requires particular formatting, you can add it to the dictation to save time adding it later. When you want to underline, italicise or bold elements of your text, say STOP and then issue formatting instructions for the next word, words, sentence etc.

For example, to bold something, say ‘stop, bold’ then continue dictating the passage that should be in bold type. To return to normal, when you have finished dictating the content to be bold, say ‘stop, end bold’ and continue with your dictation.

You should only need to spell out obscure words, technical terms, names and addresses, etc., as most experienced, qualified transcription typists will not only have a good working knowledge of the English language, but commonly used legal, commercial and Latin terms.

When spelling out words, the recommended phonetic alphabet to use is the easily recognised International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet:


Dictating numbers can be a problem, but made simpler if you are consistent throughout, allowing typists to get used to your style. It is recommended that years are dictated as spoken, so 1977 becomes nineteen seventy seven and the number zero is dictated as ‘zero’ or ‘nought’ and never as ‘oh’.

Whether you are outsourcing your transcription or utilising in-house resources, you should dictate any relevant reference numbers at the start to identify which client, case or order the transcription refers to. If you are utilising outsourced transcription services, the typists may have access to your system remotely, allowing them to complete work within the relevant files utilising existing templates.

Whether internal typists or outsourced service providers are to undertake the transcription, you should be able to speak directly to the typist and discuss any specific requirements.Dictation software will also typically allow youto include notes with your sound files, where typists can view any special instructions concerning your dictation.

An advantage of outsourced transcription service providers is having typists spread throughout the UK, allows them to match typists with dictators that perhaps share a particularly strong regional accent.

In simple terms the advice is mostly common sense, but to ensure you receive accurate transcriptions that can save you time formatting or correcting,the best advice is topress record, pause, then speak slowly and clearly.

Maxine Park

Maxine Park

About the author: Maxine Park launched DictateNow with husband Garry, to offer an enhanced and efficient transcription resource to businesses in a wide range of sectors including legal, medical, public sector, charity and parliament. Her experience as a solicitor and home-working parent directly led to the formation of DictateNow which currently employs a large pool of home-based typists in the UK, to provide fast, reliable and confidential digital dictation and transcription services.

A well-respected and published author, Maxine has a talent for delivering insightful, detailed and engaging articles covering topics of interest to owners, managers and individuals of businesses and organisations of all sizes across all sectors. She is able to shape articles to ensure they remain relevant to each audience and meet the needs of editors with regard to the originality and length of her articles. 


UK’s Frasers flags possible store closures after ‘near worthless’ govt support



UK's Frasers flags possible store closures after 'near worthless' govt support 1

(Reuters) – Mike Ashely-owned Frasers Group on Friday warned of possible store closures after it reviews its estate, as the company said government aid for the coronavirus-battered retail sector was not good enough.

Britain will extend a year-long business rates exemption for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses to the end of June, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday as part of his annual budget statement.

“For the remaining nine months of the (financial) year, business rates will still be discounted by two-thirds, up to a value of 2 million pounds for closed businesses, with a lower cap for those who have been able to stay open,” Sunak told parliament.

“The 2 million pound rates cap … from July 2021 to March 2022, makes it a near worthless support package for large retailers,” Frasers said in a statement.

The company, earlier known as Sports Direct, said the rate cap would make it “nearly impossible” to take on former sites of collapsed department store chain, Debenhams, with the inherent jobs created.

Online fashion retailer Boohoo had earlier bought the Debenhams brand for 55 million pounds, but not its stores.

“Like many retailers, it’s clear Frasers had hoped the Chancellor would use the budget to finally address the much-discussed inequalities between online and brick-and-mortar stores, but once again that can was kicked down the road,” AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson said.

(Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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Volkswagen core brand to accelerate electric vehicle shift



Volkswagen core brand to accelerate electric vehicle shift 2

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Volkswagen’s namesake brand plans to more than double the share fully electric vehicles have in total European sales by 2030, the company said on Friday, in a bid to accelerate the carmaker’s shift towards battery-powered cars.

Fully electric vehicles are expected to account for more than 70% of total European vehicle sales by 2030, compared with a previous target of 35%, the world’s second-largest carmaker said as it unveiled its ‘Accelerate’ strategy.

“With Accelerate we are increasing the speed on our path to a digital future,” said Ralf Brandstaetter, who heads the Volkswagen brand and also sits on the group’s management board.

In China and the United States, the share of electrically powered vehicles is set to rise to 50 percent by 2030, Volkswagen said, taking aim at rivals including Tesla to become the world’s leader in electric vehicle production.

“Of all the major manufacturers, Volkswagen has the best chance of winning the race. While competitors are still in the middle of the electric transformation, we are taking big steps toward digital transformation,” Brandstaetter said.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz; Editing by Riham Alkousaa and Caroline Copley)

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Amazon’s first cashierless store arrives in Britain in sign of global expansion



Amazon's first cashierless store arrives in Britain in sign of global expansion 3

By Jeffrey Dastin

(Reuters) – Inc will open its first-ever physical store outside the United States on Thursday.

The world’s largest online retailer said the cashierless store, dubbed “Amazon Fresh,” is located in Britain, in the London Borough of Ealing. It will carry a private UK food brand it’s calling “by Amazon” and will let consumers skip the checkout line when they shop.

The opening is a sign of the Seattle-based company’s ambition to sell food globally and its belief that physical stores are a key way to capture consumers’ high spend on groceries, a category it has yet to dominate.

It so far has worked toward that goal in the United States by acquiring the Whole Foods Market chain in 2017 and testing shoppers’ interests with an array of other formats: about two dozen cashierless convenience stores called Amazon Go, two Seattle-area Amazon Go Grocery stores that are about four times the size, and 10 Amazon Fresh supermarkets in California and Illinois.

As in the Go stores, customers will scan a smartphone app to open the UK store’s entry gates. Ceiling cameras and shelf weight censors determine what shoppers add to their carts or put back, and their on-file credit cards are billed after they exit.

The location, much smaller than a supermarket, will sell prepared meals, some groceries, and Amazon devices, as well as offer a counter for picking up and returning online orders.

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; editing by Richard Pullin)

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