Typing from dictation, either spoken directly or from a dictaphone, is an acquired skill. Firstly, you need to be a touch typist and be able to type at least 60 words per minute. If you cannot do this, then it will be difficult to type from the spoken word and would take a long time to type from a dictaphone. Secondly, it helps if you understand the jargon used and the industry, such as medicine or engineering.
Make sure you are seated comfortably in a quiet room. Have your headphones adjusted correctly, check the volume on the machine and listen to the first few lines to get a feel of how the speaker flows and his voice. Have your first blank page ready on the computer and the margins and spacing set how the speaker wants it.
Hopefully you have a machine that you can pause, or if it is a disk you have it on Windows Media and you can click on the "pause" button in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. You may have speech recognition on your computer, and can stop and start it that way.
Completing the Work
Listen very carefully and add in punctuation and paragraphs as you go if you can. If you can't understand a word or it is not spoken clearly, leave a gap to ask the speaker later. Add in titles and subheadings if asked to and in the footer put the date, title and your initials. Read it and spell-check it carefully once typed. If certain sentences make no sense, highlight them for discussion with the speaker.
Typing at a Meeting
If you are taking meeting minutes and typing them straight onto a laptop, you will need to be a very fast typist indeed to have it verbatim. However, you can just type the gist of the discussion using initials for the speakers and add to it later. Your boss may want to dictate to you and you type it straight onto the computer; again, this is for experienced typists. If you don't understand or miss a word, it is best to leave it blank and ask afterward, as you do not want to interrupt his thought processes.
Beverley Lee started freelance writing in 2005 while teaching journalism. Her work has been published in the "Leicester Mercury," the "Peterborough Evening Telegraph" and "Inside Time." She holds a diploma in journalism from the London School of Journalism and a teaching degree. She also has her own company for recruitment assistance.