Q. I had my office install Dragon NaturallySpeaking on my computer, but I’m having trouble using it. They were looking for a trainer, but can’t locate anyone in the Miami area. Any suggestions?
A. Speech recognition programs like Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeakingconvert words spoken into a microphone into typed text on a computer screen and can save significant amounts of time — not to mention the physical wear and tear of typing. However, these programs do require a get-acquainted period to work best. In addition to repeating a series of scripted phrases so the software can learn your voice and inflections, most programs require that you use a set of specific oral commands to format and navigate the document for truly hands-free typing.
Like most programs, Dragon’s dictation software comes with a basic tutorial and help guide to get you started. If you are having trouble or find the included materials insufficient, though, you have more extensive training options available — even if a personal software trainer is not available in your area.
For starters, the support area of Nuance’s Dragon products site has links to printable command cheat sheets, workbooks, and guides to the Dragon or Plantronics headset microphones that work well with the software. The support options go beyond PDF files you can download. You can also find a series of free how-to videos for the Windowsversion and Dragon Dictate for Mac.
The Dragon support site hosts free online webinars devoted to specific uses of the software (like for legal or financial offices), and links to resellers that may offer hands-on training can be found as well. Nuance also offers a $30 training video you can order, or a $30 online training course you can take right away.
Other sources of instruction can be found elsewhere. YouTube is full of instructional videos on Dragon NaturallySpeaking (and practically everything else), and the subscription-based Lynda.com training site for hundreds of programs has at least one course devoted to the dictation software; a free 30-day trial period is available.