8 Sep 2015

8 Sep 2015

The Main Content of your Dictation


After you’ve provided the fundamental information so that the document can be produced, you then need to get onto the actual substance of the document.

Taking our example of a letter again, this means that you need to provide to the typist the information to go into the body of the letter.

Now for me, I generally assume that my secretary is going to know my firm’s style guide and, as a general principle, you will find that most administrative staff are more familiar with the style guide than the professional staff. However, if that is not the case, or if you are uncertain, then you need to be more specific in terms of styling and formatting when you dictate.

In case you hadn’t picked up on it, that means that yes, you do in fact need to dictate headings and, often, you should also dictate punctuation (more on that below).

Again, going into this detail may seem cumbersome and unnecessary. It also sometimes comes across as unnatural when you first begin dictating and is one of the reasons the people shy away from dictating rather than simply typing their own things.

However, once you get used to the process of dictating these extra bits and pieces, you will find that they will start to become second nature. Think of it as simply telling a story, and the words you are using a illustrating how you want the story to be visualised in the mind of the listener. That means if you want a numbered list, then you need to ask for a numbered list. If you want a sub-paragraph then you need to ask for a sub-paragraph. If you want bullets, headings, subheadings, apostrophes, particular signing clauses – then these things need to be part of your overall strategy to dictating.

If you have a long standing secretary or assistant, then over time you might find you can start to avoid dictating these things.  However, it’s worth bearing in mind that in a larger firm or group there is every chance that a different person, with different experience, might end up typing your dictation for you.  As a result, I normally err on the side of caution and include more detail rather than less.

Now remember, the purpose of dictation is to improve your productivity and gain efficiency in the production of a letter. That means that the more you can make your dictation self-contained, the better opportunity you have the have a near final document come back at the end of the process. That minimises your editing time and allows you to focus on specific things that might require substantial changes, rather than worrying about formatting, presentation, layout and other issues such as that.

Source: Tips for Lawyers