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Do You Need to Speak Better to Dragon?

You probably could speak a bit better. Improving your speech habits is one of the best and cheapest ways to cut down on errors in NaturallySpeaking.

On the other hand, don’t go nuts. For instance, try to pronounce this example sentence: “I want a Fig Newton and a glass of milk.” Go ahead. Say it the casual way you would in a diner.

You might have said something like, “Eyewanna FigNew’n 'na glassa milk.” You probably skip the final “t” of “want” and slur “want a” (“wanna”), omit the “to” of “Newton,” skip the “a” and “d” of “and” (“n”), and don’t really pronounce either letter in the word “of.”

Now, say the sentence without slurring any consonants or dropping any a’s. (Say, “I want a Fig Newton and a glass of milk,” being sure to speak all the underlined letters.)

Dragon NaturallySpeaking still may not perform perfectly. For instance, you may get, “I want a Fig Newton in a glass of milk.” If you try too hard to enunciate phrases like “Fig Newton,” you get “Fig a Newton.”

So, the first question is: Should you try to speak better than you do normally? If you suspect that your speech is naturally a bit sloppy, or if you’ve never thought about it much, you probably should try to do better.

If you find yourself working too hard to get better accuracy, stop. You will get tired quickly, start making even more errors, and your NaturallySpeaking assistant will never learn to recognize your natural speech.

NaturallySpeaking adapts to your accent during training. What it has most trouble adapting to is missing words and sounds. If your accent is particularly strong, certain words may sound like other words to NaturallySpeaking. You can correct it using word training.

If you aren't sure you’d know good speech if you heard it, listen to some professional broadcast journalists on the radio or television. But listen to people hired specifically as news readers (as opposed to disk jockeys, “personalities,” and retired sports heroes now working as sportscasters). News readers — particularly news readers at larger radio stations or broadcasting companies — are hired partly for their careful speech.

If your speech is pretty clear, but you continue to get recognition errors, consider some other remedies: training and better audio input can make a big difference. For example, this figure shows that the correct placement of the microphone is crucial for accuracy.

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If NaturallySpeaking mis-recognizes special phrases, words, or acronyms in your vocabulary, for instance, the solution is more likely to be training or vocabulary work than improving your speech.

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