An author friend of mine told me he wrote his entire book by speaking it into a dictation application on his computer. He claimed it made the process much faster and allowed the words to flow more freely.
If you have an upcoming presentation or if you find yourself in front of the camera regularly, you might want to give dictating your script a try. Here’s a simple exercise for creating copy by speaking your script.
What You Will Need
This exercise requires you to have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop/desktop computer with dictation capabilities. For example:
- For iPhone/iPad, open Notes, tap the microphone icon on your keyboard, then start speaking. As you speak, text will appear on screen. To finish, stop speaking, and tap the keyboard icon on your keyboard.
- For Android phones or tablets, the process is similar to the iPhone. Open any app that uses a keyboard and tap the microphone icon at the bottom-left corner of the keyboard. Just start speaking and text will appear.
- On a Mac, Mountain Lion OS X and beyond have a dictation tool in System Preferences. Once you enable it and set it up, you can use it anywhere you type text. (Microsoft Word for Mac actually has a Start Dictation option in the Edit menu.)
- Most Windows operating systems have speech-recognition software built-in. It allows you to control your computer with your voice as well as dictate text. Check for it in your settings, control panel, or in programs.
We are going to try to build a “fresh” bio for you from the ground up by speaking your script. Follow these steps:
- Identify the main themes in a formal bio you may have already written, such as your bio on LinkedIn, your website, or your company’s website. Note your current position, your educational background, any awards or recognition you’ve received, and whatever else might be relevant.
- Write down these key elements in bullet form and use them for reference.
- Open the dictation app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer and do a quick test run to ensure it translates correctly and you are speaking loudly enough. This may take a bit of trial and error as the app gets “used to” your speaking patterns.
- Remember to speak any punctuation such as “period” and “comma” or your results may look like you are emulating T. S. Eliot. You’ll also want to say “new line” or “new paragraph” to—you guessed it—start a new line or a new paragraph.
- Start speaking your bio and remember to speak in first person (“I am …” rather than “His/Her name is …”). The goal is to simulate speaking about yourself on-camera. The copy will appear as you say it.
- Be aware that no voice-to-text technology is perfect. You’ll most likely find quite a few words that the app mis-interprets, especially in your first attempts, so you’ll have to do a little proof reading and editing along the way.
- Now, go back and reread your copy out loud and note how it sounds and feels. Is it easy on the ear and comfortable to the tongue? Compare this to what you might have written had you first taken the old-fashioned approach of pen to paper or keyboard to computer screen.
If you’re not happy with your first voice-to-text script, try it again. Try a different topic if that’s easier for you (some people find it difficult to talk about themselves).
As you get more comfortable with the process and the technology, you’re likely to find that the words you come up with are much more on-camera friendly and more genuine than if you had first written them down. And if the voice-to-text version ever feels a bit too “rough,” feel free to smooth out the edges—just don’t over-sanitize the copy to the point where you lose your authentic voice.
Learn More: On-Camera Coach
If you found this information valuable, check out my book, On-Camera Coach: Tools and Techniques for Business Professionals in a Video-Driven World, now available from Wiley Publishing. On-Camera Coach aims to take the mystery out of communicating through the camera and provides specific tips and techniques that can make your message sing—and you, the messenger, feel confident in a job well done.