Have you ever thought about what your transcriptionist might be thinking while listening to your dictation? “That one must put marbles in his mouth before he starts dictating,” is one of my favorite complaints.

Then there are those jobs that can make a transcriber’s day. When I see certain names pop up in my queue, I smile. I feel energized and ready to do a good job. I want to keep them happy. These are the well-paced, clear, and organized dictators. They give me clear, precise dictation, so I can give them clear, precise copy.

Are you the former or the latter? Below are a few important tips on the mechanics of dictating well.


One must first be aware of the fact that today’s technology does not allow you to see the person to whom you’re dictating, and that is a liability; when you speak face to face with someone you and the listener are using many subconscious visual cues to see that the speaker is being heard correctly and that the listener is understanding. When you talk to yourself, articulation declines because you already know what you’re saying. So when you speak into a mouthpiece, you are basically speaking to yourself because you’re not using those subconscious visual cues. Likewise, the person listening to you cannot see you. Because of this, you have to be more diligent with your diction to compensate for the lack of visualization.

Before you begin, visualize someone sitting in front of you who is hard of hearing, sweet and elderly. Preferably someone you know and love. First, when speaking to someone with a hearing deficit, you know immediately that you need to raise your voice a little. But did you know that more importantly, the best favor you can do for a hearing impaired friend is to slow down? Place just a fraction of a second between each word. Keep your volume consistent. I was told by my hearing impaired friend that I lower the volume of my voice at the end of a sentence. She assured me that I’m not the only one. So she asked me to keep the volume of my voice constant. I asked her what other issues she deals with. She said it’s very hard to hear when some people speed up their speech toward the end of a sentence, and others become less articulate and mumble toward the end of a sentence. These as well will diminish the quality of speech delivery. Be cognizant of these human idiosyncrasies in your own delivery so that your sweet, kind, elderly loved one will understand you (as well as your transcriber).

Minimize distractions

Do not eat while dictating. When at all possible, do not use your lunch hour to dictate. It’s understandable that can’t always be avoided. But do make sure you’ve completely chewed and swallowed before turning on the microphone. Also gum chewing and hard candies are just as much a detriment to your speech fluency as a submarine sandwich.

Before you try out your new and improved oratory skills, you should know all of the content that will go into the document. A good idea is to create a type of template that most of your dictation follows. Write down your subject matter in the order that you want it to be typed, and refer to it as you speak. The more you dictate, the easier this becomes. Especially if you share the template with your typist, then you will both be on the same page from the beginning, making life a lot easier for both of us!
Follow these simple and very helpful suggestions and I guarantee that someone somewhere will smile when your name pops up on a transcriber’s queue. We know how important your work is to you, and we would like to give you documents that reflect that.