Any dictation you do needs to be done from a foundation that the person typing for you does not know what you know.
What do I mean by that? What I mean is that dictation needs to be something that is adaptable, so that if you’re secretary or typist is away, there are no assumptions contained within the dictation which mean that it will become inefficient from people asking you questions all the time.
As soon as questions, clarifications, issues or uncertainties start to creep into your dictation (in particular otherwise straightforward dictation – the issue is less noticeable with longer more complex documents), it becomes dramatically less efficient and impacts upon the productivity gains that you might otherwise have. If you are doing dictation properly then you are doing it in a way that improves efficiency and productivity – not the way that creates frustration and adds cost.
That means that if you’re going to dictate something you need to provide all of the underlying material at the start which the person typing the document needs to have in order to produce the document. For that reason you need to understand your firm’s systems and procedures for document creation. If you do not know what information you’re secretarial typist needs to have prior to creating a document that how can you provide information to them?
Now, ordinarily, the information that is required for any document is going to be pretty standard. You are going to need to give someone the file number, perhaps the client name, the recipient’s name and address unless it can be located easily on the file in which case give those instructions, it also means that you are going to have to provide the correct name of the document. If you are not providing these things, then you need to give instructions about where they can be found or at least enough information that no further enquiry is required.
A letter is the most obvious example. But if you want the letter to be sent by facsimile, then it is possible there might be a different precedent for that process and you need to make sure you specify which contact details should be used. Communications might be sent by post, by hand delivery, by facsimile, by email. Many firms have different precedent starting points for each of those different modes of delivery.
Similarly, you need to provide to typist with information that is necessary in order to ensure that any notations on the document are correct. That might mean you need to specify that it is to go by registered post. It might also mean you need to ask the person to put an urgent notation on the letter, or mark it “without prejudice” or the like.
My written description of this opening process really makes it seem more complicated than it is. What really actually only takes a few seconds sounds like a more cumbersome set of instructions.
As a result, I thought it would be useful if I gave you a fictitious introductory section to a dictation in an audio format so that you can listen to it and see how easy it really is. Click the link below to play a sample opening introduction for a straightforward letter on a particular file.