Voice recorders have been around for a long time. Many professionals have been using voice recorders for decades to dictate various documents. It is still very common for a secretary to transcribe documents. With current technology, you no longer need an employee to transcribe documents. This is because many virtual assistants offer digital transcription services.

In this blog, I’ll discuss:

  • the advances in dictation technology
  • the advantages of dictating documents
  • what you can dictate

From analogue to digital

The older style of voice dictation used a micro-cassette tape. This has gone out of fashion, thanks to technology. Current digital dictation devices use either internal memory or a small memory card. There are also phone apps which can turn your smart phone into a dictation device.

There are many advantages of being able to dictate files digitally, including:

  • Higher quality of the recording
  • You don’t have to change the tape over after recording on one side of the tape
  • You don’t need an on-site staff to type your dictation
  • You don’t need to replace micro-cassettes once they’re too worn down

Why dictate?

There are many advantages to dictating.

Dictating allows you to focus on content. You don’t need to worry about document creation, typing, formatting or saving files.

These days it’s too easy to get distracted when sitting in front of a computer. This is particularly so if you’re connected to the internet. If you’re typing your own documents, you may get distracted by Googling, email or social media.

People speak faster than they can type, so you can dictate more detail and save time on typing. Generally, slow speaking is less than 110 words per minute (wpm). Conversational speech tends to fall between 120 wpm at the slower end, to 160-200 wpm in the faster range. Podcasts and audio-books are generally read at 150-160 wpm. People who use speed speech, such as auctioneers or commentators, tend to fall in the 250 to 400 wpm range. Steve Woodmore is the current Guinness world record holder. His speech was clocked at 637 wpm.

It also provides you with flexibility. You don’t need to be sitting in front of a laptop or computer to dictate. You don’t need to worry about getting a keyboard extension for your iPad or tablet. And as you can dictate using a smartphone app, you don’t even need a digital dictation machine anymore. There is no harm in having a digital dictation machine, given how compact they are.

Another aspect of flexibility is that you can dictate from anywhere. There is no need to be sitting in an office. If you’re a frequent traveler, you can dictate whilst you’re on a plane or a train and so on.

Dictation can improve an individual’s cognitive function and ability. Voicing your thoughts and ideas can improve short term memory. It can also improve your pronunciation and general speech quality. If you’re preparing a talk or presentation, then dictating it is a great way to practice what it sounds like. Dictating is also a great way to keep up your craft if you’re a professional speaker.

Dictation is a great way to keep your mind active and always thinking.

What can you dictate?

Examples of what you can dictate and then have transcribed include:

  • Letters and emails
  • Speeches and lectures
  • File notes
  • Interviews and meetings
  • Legal documents, including contracts, legal submissions, Court documents and affidavits
  • Medical documents
  • Submissions
  • Academic documents such as academic papers for publication, essays, thesis and dissertations
  • Policies and policy submissions
  • Blogs, opinions and articles!

There are no limitations on what you can dictate.


Many professions encourage staff to dictate documents and have done so for a long time. This is for good reason. Dictating can feel daunting to begin with but it doesn’t take long to get used to. I know this from my own experience working in law firms.

Technology advances allow you to dictate from anywhere. You can then arrange for a virtual assistant to transcribe your dictation. Virtual assistants who offer digital transcription services tend to charge per audio minute. Audio minute is how many minutes your digital transcription file is.

Digital transcription is one of the services I offer. The software I use allows me to transcribe different voice and file formats. Please get in touch with me if you’d like to discuss digital dictation. I promise my cats don’t mind.

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