Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I’m a CEO (but I never learned how to type)

Nearly 10 years ago a client of mine suggested I look at a software program that enables people to dictate into their computer instead of typing or pecking away at the keyboard. I was skeptical, I must admit. Would it be accurate? Would it recognize my voice? Would I spend more time programming and fixing the narrative than actually pecking away? Despite all these questions I was still intrigued.
I vividly remember my sisters who were taught to type in high school in the ‘60s but I myself was never taught how to type properly. In fact, I doubt they even have typing classes any longer. I tried to teach myself using the TypingMaster program on my Apple II E nearly 40 years ago, but my fingers were just too fat and I couldn’t get the hang of it (I know, more excuses). A few weeks after my encounter with my “typing-free” client, I met the CMO of Nuance software, Peter Mahoney, by coincidence at a professional networking event. We sat next to each other over dinner and had a revealing and stimulating conversation about the benefits of his software, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and how it was integrating into business all over the place. At the end of the evening he offered to send me a demonstration copy of the software and a headphone for me to try out. I graciously accepted his offer.
Now, I am not a technology guru by any means, but I unpacked the software, installed it quite easily and started dictating right way. At first it was admittedly a little clunky. I had to repeat words and the software was not able to recognize my voice properly. I emailed my new friend Peter who offered to have one of their technicians properly install the software on my computer. It turned out I just needed a better microphone headset (which they sent me immediately). Some more brief tech modifications and off I was, dictating away.
That was nearly 10 years ago and I still meet with Peter once a quarter for breakfast just to catch up and share stories. Each time we meet I can’t stop singing the praises of Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. Sure, there were little glitches from time to time when my computer went through software upgrades, but with a couple patches and support from their tech center I was quickly back to speed and on my way to effortless and accurate dictation.
Here are the five top reasons why I love Dragon NaturallySpeaking software:
1. It’s fun. I’ve been able to train my mind to be more creative and think innovatively without having to look at my keyboard and think about everything I’m going to say. My ideas are sharper and thoughts are better thought out.
2. Increased speed. I can talk a lot faster than I could ever type and as a result my day is much more productive, enables me to produce better and fresh ideas on-the-fly.
3. No more procrastination. In the past I would put off writing things out because it would just take too long in longhand. Now I just put on my headset and start talking without any hesitation.
4. Better expression. I’ve always been able to express myself orally rather than writing things down. For instance, if you would give me an assignment and ask me to explain it orally and then ask me to write down the same thought, the oral presentation would be a lot more compelling and interesting. It’s just how my mind works.
5. More engaged. Now that I am no longer burdened by my typing fears I’m able to become fully immersed in my work and focus on what really matters. In turn, being more engaged fuels my passion and creativity, allowing me to work harder and smarter.

As an employee brand engagement consulting firm our company promotes the idea that people should become more engaged by changing their behavior to support their brand’s values. Well, I’ve found that using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for business does indeed enable people’s behavior to focus on the things that matter most, such as supporting the customer and generating revenue and profitability; less time is spent on the mechanics of replying to emails and drafting briefs and more is spent on delivering value to the customer. After all, isn’t that what’s most important?
Dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the PC.

This post originally appeared on Nuance’s What’s next blog.