Tuesday 13 June 2017

Digital Dictation Part 3

Remember that the recorder will pick up background noise, so try and avoid shuffling papers or other noises while you are dictating.

You can pause the recording if you are interrupted and then resume when ready without any unnecessary audio being recorded.

When doing addresses or anything that may seem unclear then the use of the military alphabet, which is included below, is a great help and will ensure that you are not misheard, eg if a “b” may be mistaken for a “p” it is a good idea to use the military alphabet to make it easy to distinguish which letter you want, (ie “bravo” means “b” and “papa” means “p”.

If the subject matter you dictate contains any special terminology, we would work with you to put together a list of commonly used words, phrases, names etc right from the start. This means we can set up shortcuts to insert those words rather than having to constantly look them up, which reduces the chance of errors being made. If the recording is of a group discussion, each speaker should identify themselves by name before making comments as otherwise it is not always easy to tell from a recording who said what. The same rule about reducing background noise is even more applicable here especially if it is a lunch meeting and there are plates rattling!! People should avoid interrupting and talking over the top of each other. There should be structure to the meeting.

Conors Admin Services charges by the audio hour. Speech is always quicker than typing, just like the speed of light is always quicker than the speed of sound. What this means is that one hour of dictation usually takes between three to four hours to type up, if the quality is good, but may take longer if quality is poor. There are ways to reduce your charges though so you get more value for money, and these are covered below.

Speak clearly, (ie try not to have a mouthful of food or to be yawning when you are dictating).Have the recorder near you rather than across the room from you, but by the same token not directly in front of your mouth. If you are dictating outside please be aware that if the wind is blowing into the microphone it makes it hard to hear the recording, so find a sheltered spot. If the types of documents you are dictating have certain standard paragraphs or formats in them, these can be set up on templates. The way this saves time is that you will not have to dictate these same paragraphs over and over and because they are already on your template they will not need to be typed again either. Since you are charged for the amount of time required to type the documents, the less typing there is, the less it costs you. So just as a very short example, if you always have a standard opening to your correspondence, your template could say: Thank you for your letter dated [insert date]. This means you can just dictate, for example, “insert date of 1 January 2017”. We can set up standard paragraphs for you on templates for any of the regular information you use. We can provide you with a list of standard paragraphs (numbered or titled for easy identification), so you simply dictate, for example, “leave in paragraphs 1 and 2, delete paragraphs 3 and 4”.

If you know anyone in the armed forces or have watched any military movies you may have heard some of the “military alphabet” (also known as NATO phonetic alphabet). “What does this have to do with digital transcription?” you may ask. The reason why the military uses this alphabet is to reduce chances of anyone mishearing communications. You can see how this is useful for digital transcription. Here is an example: If you are dictating something like a postcode or a reference number, it can be difficult to pronounce similar-sounding letters clearly enough for a transcriptionist to distinguish them. You might dictate “PS2000” but it might sound like “BS2000” or “BF2000”. Instead of sounding like you are singing “Pop goes the Weasel” to pronounce the “P” clearly or hissing like a snake to pronounce the “S” clearly, all you need to dictate is “Papa, Sierra, 2000”, for easy distinction. In other words, just use the list below to find the word corresponding to the letter you are dictating and say that word instead of the letter. Here is the full military alphabet:

A: Alpha
B. Bravo
C: Charlie
D: Delta
E: Echo
F: Foxtrot
G: Golf
H: Hotel
I: India
J: Juliet
K: Kilo
L: Lima
M: Mike
N: November
O: Oscar
P: Papa
Q: Quebec
R: Romeo
S: Sierra
T: Tango
U: Uniform
V: Victor
W: Whiskey
X: X-ray
Y: Yankee
Z: Zulu

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Digital Dictation Part 2

What Can Digital Transcription Be Used For?

You can use digital transcription for correspondence, reports, or anythiing else that you may need typed up. If you keep your recorder close at hand, you can dictate just about anywhere, even in the car but preferably not while driving.

The quality of digital recordings is much better than the old analoge and has the advantage that it can be sent across the room, town or even around the world any any time of day or night.

What Equipment Do I Need?

You will need to either buy a digital dictaphone or else investigate the options of what  dictation packages you can get for your phone. Most android and Apple phones are capable of supporting this as an option.

Other than that you’ll be good to go.

How To Dictate?

The style you choose is a personal preferrence, meaning you can either dictation all punctuation etc or you can just dictate the way you speak. We’ve been in the game a while and so are happy to insert punctuation as necessary. Due to our excellent English skills as well as the reflections in your voice we’ll know what to do.

Friday 21 April 2017

What Is Digital Transcription

In simple terms it is the electronic typing of the spoken work, often done remotely. This unfortunately often makes people worry that they won’t be able to do it as it is too technical.

Contrary to this however the process is actually very simple and straightforward.

Once upon a time the secretary would have taken the dictation in the form of shorthand. This then moved on to using analogue cassette records (which a lot of people to this day still use). Well digital transcription is just the same as using the old analogue machines.

Just like we all, well those of us of a certain age anyway, used to use vinyl records and cassette tapes to listen to music, then we moved to CDs and now we use MP3 players or phones/tablets more often than not. This is basically the same evolutionary process as the dictation process has taken.

The disadvantages of the old analogue dictations are many, from the tapes loose quality or become mangled and played back on often and therefore quality deteriorates. If the person transcribing is not close at hand then it needs to be either couriered to them or they need to come and collect it.

With digital dictations the process is actually much easier. Once the recording is finished, the audio file is uploaded onto your PC or laptop via the USB port and it can then be emailed or uploaded to a secure site for the safe arrival at the other end. The documents are then emailed back to you once finished.

The advantages are numerous, starting with the decrease in the amount of paper that is used and the best one is that you can send work at any time of the day or night. Even when you’re travelling and are halfway around the world your transcriptionist can still receive and process your work.

Friday 22 August 2014

Ever wished for a different day

I did this the other day. Sitting working during the first week of the school holidays while my daughters were having breakfast I heard a dripping sound. On further investigation I discovered that my geyser had sprung a leak. Needless to say, the recycled paper and cardboard insulation, which seemed like a good idea at the time, was sodden and before I knew what was happening I had a big hole in the ceiling.

This brings me back to a post a couple of weeks back about employees paying attention and being the company that they work for. After numerous phone calls, my landlady having a go at the insurance company for lack of response from the builders I finally have a bedroom ceiling back and the walls painted. I'm still waiting on the carpet people to come and replace the carpet however.

Why am I writing about this you may ask?

Well in true fashion instead of getting upset about this bump in the road, I decided to look on the positive side instead. If the geyser had decided to burst a week earlier I would have been doing the school run and the water would have had another hour to run before being shut off. My neighbour was just leaving for work when I went out to shut off the water and very kindly did it for me. My husband came home from work to take the girls off to various activities and left me able to clean up as much of the mess as possible without being asked a million times by my 3-year-old why there was a hole in my ceiling.

So three weeks of mess and chaos with the school holidays and my bedroom is finally a bedroom again, albeit without a new carpet at the moment but I'm hoping that that will be sorted with the Insurance shortly.

Monday 18 August 2014

Everything or Somethings

Something that is often asked by people investigating the options of being a Virtual Assistant is whether or not they should offer everything or choose a niche and stick to it.

There are advantages and disadvantages for both sides and the final decision is really down to you.

What I would suggest those is that you start with a small list of jobs that you really enjoy doing and don't include anything that you find tedious or bothersome. If there is something that you want to learn and are willing to take a hit on the earnings to use it as a learning experience (only with the consent of your client of course) then that can also work.

What I can tell you though is that a long list of services is no guarantee to getting work, in fact sometimes it can actually be detrimental. If you're looking for an accountant or bookkeeper would you really want someone who listed amongst the services they offered, typing, research, diary management etc.? While in some cases the answer may be yes, its also just as likely to be no.

Whatever services you decide to offer remember to factor into your time a couple of times a year the time to review what services you offer, what you don't want/like doing any more as well as new services that you have been asked about. The life of a VA should never be boring!

Friday 15 August 2014

Diary Maintenance

One of the hardest things about running a business is maintaining the diary to ensure that everything happens as and when it should.

Remember that this doesn't just include appointments for work, but also deadlines, quotes and invoices, payments as well as the necessary evils of ensuring your paperwork is up to date and any necessary forms and payments submitted to the relevant people on time.

In this modern day and age it is actually very easy for a virtual assistant to be able to assist you with this. The diary can be created online in Google Calander and then you and your assistant, and anyone else who may need it, can have access to it. You can also link various calenders together so that a workforce can see what is happening as well as add meetings, appointments and reminders or each other.

If you're a small business struggling with meeting all your targets and deadlines you might want to consider hiring a virtual assistant who can help you. Add to diary maintenance call answering and your office truly has become mobile.

Monday 7 July 2014

Accessing the Power of Gratitude

The practice of gratitude as a tool for happiness has been in the mainstream for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, greater health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster rate of recovery from surgery.

But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be difficult to sustain. So many of us are trained to notice what is broken, undone or lacking in our lives. And for gratitude to meet its full healing potential in our lives, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. And that can take some time.

That’s why practicing gratitude makes so much sense. When we practice giving thanks for all we have, instead of complaining about what we lack, we give ourselves the chance to see all of life as an opportunity and a blessing.

Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Pain and injustice exist in this world, but when we focus on the gifts of life, we gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.

There are many things to be grateful for: colorful autumn leaves, legs that work, friends who listen and really hear, chocolate, fresh eggs, warm jackets, tomatoes, the ability to read, roses, our health, butterflies. What’s on your list?

Some Ways to Practice Gratitude

  Keep a gratitude journal in which you list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly or monthly lists. Greater frequency may be better for creating a new habit, but just keeping that journal where you can see it will remind you to think in a grateful way.

  Make a gratitude collage by drawing or pasting pictures.

  Practice gratitude around the dinner table or make it part of your nighttime routine.

  Make a game of finding the hidden blessing in a challenging situation.

  When you feel like complaining, make a gratitude list instead. You may be amazed by how much better you feel.

  Notice how gratitude is impacting your life. Write about it, sing about it, express thanks for gratitude.

As you practice, an inner shift begins to occur, and you may be delighted to discover how content and hopeful you are feeling. That sense of fulfillment is gratitude at work.

Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications