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BECOMING A GREAT DICTATOR

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:

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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. 

Business

Return to work: Flexibility, preparation and communication are key

Return to work: Flexibility, preparation and communication are key 1

By Matt Weston, Managing Director, Robert Half UK

As lockdown restrictions ease for the foreseeable future, conversations across the business world are starting to turn to how employers can safely and seamlessly prepare for their workforce to return to the office.

Research from Robert Half has found that over half (54%) of employees are worried about working in close proximity to their colleagues, while a similar proportion are eager to return to the office due to loneliness working from home (45%) or concerns about missing out on career opportunities (30%).

Unsurprisingly, after everything companies and their employees have done to successfully adapt their operations and working practices to social distancing rules over the last few months, immediately returning to the old ways of working will likely neither be sensible or practical. With safety being the key priority for the ‘new normal’ of office life – communication, flexibility and preparation should be the main focus areas for employers.

With this in mind, what are the challenges and opportunities that employees anticipate as they prepare for the return to work, beyond government and industry supplied health and safety best practice? Furthermore, how can employers best support their staff during this period?

Keep people at the heart of change

It is important to recognise that your workforce has been working through an intense period of uncertainty and change for months, which can be incredibly unsettling. On top of this, working for weeks in isolation without the usual physical interactions with team members could be potentially detrimental to employee engagement and mental wellbeing.

Having adjusted to keep staff connected with one another from a distance with virtual team building exercises, video calls and daily check-ins, as teams begin working in hybrid models with some in the office and others remote, staff engagement will need to adapt again.

Managing people with greater sensitivity and maintaining positivity throughout will be crucial. To help instil a sense of normality and engagement, encourage maximum collaboration between individuals (in accordance with social distancing rules), and make sure teams feel part of company goals and opportunities through regular meetings and communication – no matter their location.

Continuing to invest in technology and offering flexibility will also be important to ensuring that people can continue to work remotely or on-site, either in accordance with their own wishes or as part of your staggered return-to-office plan.

Communicate, communicate, communicate (and listen)

Reassuring staff that they are able to safely return to the office will require continuous communication. From expectations of the physical office, to expectations of how to operate within hybrid teams, these new expectations and new workplace requirements should be communicated to all staff clearly to avoid confusion.

Regular email updates, updates on the company’s intranet and social media channels, as well as frequent town hall meetings (either online or in a smaller setting) could be key elements of an effective communications approach.

Also, consider a feedback channel to allow staff within the team to offer thoughts on their experience of returning to the office and any suggestions on improving the process. Whether on a company-wide basis or a team-by-team approach, schedule regular check-ins to engage with employees’ questions and concerns.

Maintaining open communication channels with your team will be essential for keeping up employee morale and ensuring clarity. For example, if some employees aren’t comfortable with coming to the office every day, then they should have plenty of opportunities to voice their concerns and have them dealt with promptly, respectfully and fairly.

Staggered return-to-office planning

Depending on the size of business and density of office space, maintaining home working arrangements across teams on an alternating basis could make it easier to implement safe social distancing. This involves select teams working remotely while others work on-site on any given day.

An alternating approach to remote working might also reduce the risk of staff feeling pressured or overwhelmed by an immediate return to the office five-days-a-week. After all, some families might be juggling temporary disruptions to childcare arrangements and public transport systems will likely become crowded again. So, a transitionary period will help everyone adjust to post-lockdown office working.

Finally, if you have developed your technology infrastructure to facilitate remote working, you would do well to continue to leverage these new capabilities as in all probability, a mixture of remote and at-office work will be needed for some time.

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Business

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy  

Contis enters RBS Capability and Innovation Fund bid seeking £35 million for disruptive SME growth strategy   2

Leading payments provider, Contis, has applied for two grants from the RBS & BCR Alternative Remedies Package, totalling £35 million.  

Unlike most applicants who will deploy funds through a single brand, Contis is taking a completely different approach. The funding will be used to drive fintech innovation in the UK by developing an off the shelf, B2B electronic and card payment technology platform for SMEs. With Contis’ powerful tech stack and regulated status, this will empower hundreds of fintechs to support the SME market with groundbreaking technologies, payments and lending capabilities. Contis today services over 800,000 consumer accounts, 14,500 business accounts and processes £4bn in transactions per year, demonstrating a proven track record.   

UK businesses are facing a challenging economic environment with the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit. As large corporations and entire sectors are affected, SMEs will play a vital role in the recovery. Contis’ approach is completely disruptive, offering three channels to maximise support for SMEs and sole traders, through three unique brands, all powered by APIs from Contis’ modular and configurable engine. 

1.       Canvas for Business 

Contis is a super-vendor in the world of fintech, offering payments through proven banking rails and card scheme capabilities including issuing pre-paid, debit and virtual cards. They’re linked to digital delivery like Apple Pay and Google Pay, and a trusted tech stack that boasts 99.99% uptime.  

With funding from the Capability and Innovation Fund (CIF), Contis’ technology and regulated services will be made available to the whole fintech community, enabling them to provide dedicated SME accounts with the latest leading-edge capabilities delivered via Contis’ wholly owned, secure, cloud-based technology and apps. Contis’ solution has a firm eye on the need for SMEs to compete internationally, particularly after Brexit, and offers FX integration as standard.  

Canvas for Business will increase competition by providing fintechs serving the SME market with technology that outstrips the big banks. Contis will also provide credit referencing capabilities and empower fintechs to lend to their SME client base through Contis’ own credit licence. Without the constraints of legacy systems, it will enable simple connectivity to accounting and payments solutions, as well as to unlimited future innovations.  

2.       Engage for Business 

Over 150 Credit Unions currently use Contis’ Engage service and technology, and hold an estimated £400 million in undeployed cash reserves. Developed with CIF funding, Engage for Business will enable Credit Unions to launch business accounts and payments products for the first time, and allow excess funds to be redeployed in the SME sector through business support loans. This will revolutionise access to funding for sole traders and small businesses. 

3.       Freedom for Business 

With CIF funding, Contis will also offer large scale SMEs a direct-to-market solution where Contis holds the relationship and provides a bespoke offer to meet the business’ exact needs. 

Contis’ application to the Capability and Innovation Fund is focused on creating the widest possible impact for UK SMEs by fulfilling their accounts & payments needs and driving innovation in SME financial services. 

Through the grant, Contis will empower over 200 fintechs and Credit Unions to provide credit, simplify payments integration into everyday business needs, offer digital credit referencing, provide budgeting tools to SMEs, enable automated payments, give predictive insight on cash flow, provide rewards to SMEs on spending, and much more. 

Peter Cox, Founder and Executive Chairman of Contis said: “Our mission is to democratise payments and financial services for all SMEs, so they’re spoilt for choice with innovative and affordable solutions that meet their exact needs. Our approach, based upon proven technologies, will broaden and disrupt the services available to SMEs far beyond the capabilities of existing providers such as the big banks.  

“By driving competition and innovation, while improving the availability of funding, our approach will increase the services on offer to SMEs and make them more affordable, therefore becoming easier for every entrepreneurial person with vision to run their own businesses.” 

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Business

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver

Four years of digital transformation in four weeks: UK lockdown puts pressure on brands to digitally deliver 3

Nearly a third (32%) of consumers would switch providers if a brand’s website is unavailable for more than 24 hours

A study released today reveals the scale of omni-channel pressure brands now faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as consumers flock to apps and websites to as the priority destination to transact with brands.

The UK has experienced a huge leap in use of online services thanks to lockdown, with the public appearing to have less concern for the availability of a brand’s physical location. Research by Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS) uncovers a “window of availability” that UK businesses now have before consumer loyalty changes:

  • If a brand’s website is down for 24 hours – 32 percent of consumers would switch provider
  • If a brand’s app is down for 24 hours – 28 percent of consumers would switch provider
  • If a physical store is closed for 24 hours – 20 percent of consumers would switch provider

The results by industry paint an interesting picture of the availability timeframes brands are expected to adhere to:

  • For online retailers, excluding grocery retailers – 23 percent of consumers would switch provider if they could not access online services for 12 hours, rising to over a third (34 percent) after 24 hours
  • For financial services and entertainment streaming platforms – 21 percent of consumers would switch provider after 12 hours, rising to 33 percent after 24 hours
  • In the case of online grocery shopping – 20 percent would switch provider after 12 hours, rising to one third 33 percent after 24 hours

The findings also highlight that as digital reliance increases, so will consumer expectations towards availability in the future. Over the coming two years, a third (33 percent) of consumers expect online financial services to always be available, rising to 35 percent for streaming services.

“UK consumers have become reliant on the constant availability of online services, and lockdown has only served to heighten this,” comments Chris Huggett, SVP, EMEA at Sungard AS. “What used to be a choice between physical and digital has now firmly accelerated into digital environments across various industries. As online worlds continue to outpace bricks and mortar as the face of businesses, ensuring constant availability and clear communications on downtime will be key for brands to build trust and loyalty.

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