Voice and Speaking Skills For Dummies
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Changing any habit is hard, and speech is one of the most habitual activities anyone can do. However, NaturallySpeaking may appreciate your efforts. How does a person improve his or her speech? Following are some fairly painless tips for speaking better:

  • Avoid skipping words. Speak every word, without fretting at first about the enunciation of the word itself. NaturallySpeaking relies on the adjoining words to help figure out a word. If you skip or slur words, NaturallySpeaking will make more mistakes.

  • Speak long phrases or full sentences. The more words in an utterance, the better NaturallySpeaking can figure out your words from context.

  • Make sure you pronounce even small words like “a” and “the.” If, like most people, you normally pronounce the word “a” as “uh,” keep doing so. Don’t switch to “ay,” as in “hay.”

  • Avoid running words together. The tiny breaks between sounds help distinguish one word from another.

  • Focus your effort on pronouncing words differently that should sound a little different, and which Dragon NaturallySpeaking may otherwise confuse. Trying to pronounce “hear” differently from “here,” for instance, won’t gain you much: They are supposed to sound alike. Nor will you benefit from trying to pronounce the “t” in “exactly,” because that word won’t be confused easily with any other word, even if you pronounce it “zackly.”

    But pronouncing the “th” in the word “the” — even if you do it very lightly — will help NaturallySpeaking distinguish that word from the word “a.”

  • Enunciate. If you’re speaking every word and still have problems, work on your enunciation of words themselves. Pay attention to how a word is spelled. Try to speak all the consonant and vowel sounds in a word, especially ones that begin and end the word — unless they make the word noticeably awkward or the word sounds wrong as a result. ("Psychology" comes to mind.)

  • Position the microphone appropriately. If you’re getting small words in your text that you didn’t say, like “a” or “and,” the microphone may be picking up small puffs of breath. Try moving the microphone more to the side. Then run the Audio Setup Wizard, by clicking the Audio button on the DragonBar. Select the Check Microphone option. You are forced to run both the volume and quality checks.

  • Sit with good posture, not bent over. Relax. Breathe freely. Think peaceful thoughts. Visualize twirling stars. You are getting very sleepy…

  • Don’t speak too rapidly. You don’t have to speak slowly, but in today’s high-pressure environment, many people begin to sound like a chipmunk with a Starbucks habit.

  • If your throat gets dry or scratchy, drink water or warm tea. (Creamy, cheesy, or overly sweet foods or drinks can goo up your throat. They can make you sound murky or cause you to clear your throat a lot.)

  • Run the setup wizard. If your voice changes volume over time, and errors increase, run the Audio Setup Wizard again, choosing to adjust volume. If you have a cold or allergies, or any other long-term change to your voice, consider doing some more general training.

  • Speak the way you trained. When you trained NaturallySpeaking, you read text aloud. Use your reading-aloud voice when you dictate text for highest accuracy.

  • Talk to a voice trainer or singing instructor. A single session with a professional can give you a lot of tips about speaking more clearly. Who knows, you may find a whole new career.

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