Before spending $500 on speech recognition or speech-to-text software, try out Microsoft’s free speech recognition software that comes with almost any PC purchased since 2008. If you can’t find it, try accessing your computer’s “Control Panel,” and then “Speech Recognition.”
Tips when trying it out (many of these come straight from the program itself while using it):
- Train it: Go through the recommended training: takes about 15 minutes
- Articulate: For instance, when I was training the program I started off articulating very well. But then I realized that I might actually be training the program to recognize a much different voice of mine. However, not only does the program recommend we articulate well, but articulating better is actually a great lesson for life. If you’ve been known to mumble a bit, if people often ask you to repeat what you said, or if you simply want to work on your accent or pronunciations for your future broadcasting career, then you can look at improving your articulation as getting two birds with one stone. In fact, the training session itself recommends that you, “consider speaking like a newscaster.”
- Positioning: Whether you use an external or embedded microphone, make sure you properly position the microphone. If you have an external microphone, Microsoft recommends your mouth be as close as an inch from it!
- Avoid “PEBCAK Errors”: Known in many circles as the “Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard,” any issue that is your fault, not the programs, is a PEBCAK Error. Improper positioning of you and the hardware, mumbling like an ogre, or having too much background noise are just a few examples. But also, not taking the time to set up the machine properly … these are issues that could easily be avoided.
- Use good technology:If your mic sucks, replace it. If your computer is old, get a new one. If you ask me, proper and timely technology upgrades give the best ROI in business and personal life
- “Correct” your mistakes–literally: There’s dialog for that. Use it. Learn the proper “correction” terminology and use it early and often. The proper dictation is, “Correct (insert word to correct) .” This will prompt a list of words as options to replace the mistaken word. 90% of the time, the correct work will appear.
- “Spell” out the word–literally: If after you use the “Correct ____” command, you still do not see the proper word, simply say “Spell”
- Practice: Once again, use the dictation early and often. It may take a while, but let’s hope it will be well worth it. Over time, the basic commands will become natural to you. At the same time, you will learn the advanced commands that make voice recognition software tremendous.
“And this is my first official sentence using Microsoft’s speech recognition program.”
^The above sentence actually took more than three minutes. I sure hope it gets better with time.