Wouldn't it be great if you could type faster? Unfortunately, as adults, most of us already type as fast as we are ever going to type. Barring any technical advances in human tendon speed, we won't be typing any faster than we already do. However, many people — particularly people who write, either in correspondence or as part of their jobs, as in lawyers and writers -- find it necessary to increase their typing speed in order to maximize their productivity.
One option, which has been around for over a decade, is dictation software. Many people have a preconceived notion of dictation software as being inaccurate, buggy, and leading to many inaccuracies which can be embarrassing and damaging. As a result, many people avoid using dictation software, fearing that it will actually decrease productivity.
Dictation software has gotten dramatically better since its introduction to consumers in the 90s. Speech recognition engine have become much more accurate, and can even begin to detect accents and slight nuances in speech (in fact, the largest producer of dictation software is named Nuance).
Tips for Using Dictation Software
The way dictation software *used* to work, you had to speak every single word slowly and clearly. People using dictation software often had to speak very slowly and methodically, and even had to dictate punctuation marks.
Old habits apparently die hard, as people still believe that this is the correct way to use voice recognition software. However, this is not the case. Voice recognition engines recognize *phrase* now, not words, so you should speak clearly and smoothly, but not unnaturally. Pausing too much in the flow of you speech will prevent the engine from picking up phrases.
What if There are Errors?
One common question when people consider using voice recognition software is, "What if there are errors when I dictate?" Well, the first question to ask is: compared to what? When you type, you will likely have typos. Voice recognition, particularly after you train your voice to use it correct, can have up to 99% accuracy. That means that in a 500-word article, you will have about five errors that you will need to correct later. Perhaps this is more than you would have when typing, perhaps not.
You should do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to determine whether the *net* time taken to write 500 words (or any amount of word) after editing is more or less than it would take to write by mere typing. If you save 30 minutes but then have to take five extra minutes to edit, then the net gain is worth it.
Which Voice Recognition Software to Buy?
While it is risky to unequivocally recommend one brand of *any* type of software, Nuance's Dragon Dictation software is the best and most advanced voice recognition software on the market today. Dragon Dictation will learn your speech patterns, mannerisms, and accent, and it will even detect pauses to place periods or commas. After a day of training it you will be able to speak your writing naturally, quickly, and efficiently.