Dictation, document drafting and document compiling are common activities in lawyers’ daily lives. Today, lawyers have done away with typing their own stuff and save time and money by using dictation software in combination with human input from a legal transcription company to prepare both simple and complex documents. However, as dictation plays a major role in ensuring high quality, timely documentation, lawyers need to hone their dictation skills. Here are – tips to help with this.
- Plan the Framework of the Document: The documents that lawyers compile on a daily basis could range from simple memos, letters and emails to complex contracts and court forms. Regardless of the document type, knowing what should be included and planning the framework before beginning the dictation can be a big help. Without planning, the file could have gaps and pauses, which can affect the audio transcription. More planning would be needed for longer, complex documents such as an agreement or pleading. An article published by www.tipsforlawyers.com offers this guidance for dictating a pleading:
- First, write down the names of the parties and major elements to be included in the pleading.
- Next, list the sub-sections under the major elements.
- Include lists of invoices, numbers, mathematical factors, etc in the dictation only after the document is almost finalized.
Having an outline will help with the flow and the order of the dictation. Preparing an outline of the document before dictating it will reduce the chances of blanks in the file.
- Dictate Headings and Punctuation: Bullets, headings, subheadings, and punctuation should be dictated. Headings and subheadings are essential elements in letters as well as longer, complex documents. All speech-related punctuation, especially commas, apostrophes and periods should be included in the dictation as they have a distinct role in conveying the meaning of the content and also impact the flow of the document. If you leave out punctuation, you may have to revisit the final product to make corrections. Today’s dictation software will insert the punctuations you dictate and even insert intelligent spacing around punctuation. Digital transcription service providers will include punctuation marks only if they are explicitly dictated.
- Speak Clearly: Speaking clearly and slowly. Professionals in a legal transcription company are well-versed in transcribing audio recordings of correspondence, briefs, pleadings, deposition summaries, and other documents with complex legal terminology and jargon. However, if you speak too fast, even experienced transcriptionists will find it difficult to make out what you are saying. Other rules of speaking naturally include uttering every word, pronouncing even small words like “a” and “the”, speaking long phrases and full sentences and leaving tiny breaks between sounds to distinguish each word. Make sure to articulate unfamiliar words, technical terms and unusual names. Don’t forget that the more uncommon a word is, the more time it would take for the listener to process it.
- Position and Hold the Microphone Correctly: The positioning of the microphone is a key element in ensuring efficient dictation. Avoid holding the microphone close against your mouth or too far away as it can disrupt the audio. If it is too close, the mic will pick up mouth sounds and if it’s too far away, it will pick up sounds in the room. Experts recommend that speakers position their face about one to three inches away from the mic (www.nuance.com). Hold the microphone to the side of your mouth to avoid breathing sounds. Don’t move the device or your head suddenly.
- Be as Specific as Possible: When you dictate, be specific about styling and formatting. Uncertainty about these matters can cause a lot of confusion and can lead to wasting time on correction, also impacting productivity. Dictating instructions on style and formatting can help ensure that the final product is what you want it to be.
Outsourcing is a smart option to get your dictations transformed into high quality legal documents. With expert legal transcriptionists on board, an online transcription service provider that specializes in the field will handle the entire documentation process – from typing, formatting, proofreading and uploading the material to your practice document management system. Leading outsourcing companies can provide affordable transcription services that can your save time and money and increase your overall productivity.