© Speaking Solutions, July 2000


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For some, writing with their voices is as easy as talking.  But for others, their first attempts to write by talking may result in fragmented and disorganized copy.  One way to beat this problem is to use a speech outline. With speech recognition outlines, the emphasis shifts to complete phrases and sentences rather than cryptic abbreviations of what you really wish to say.


Speaking Skills


In this exercise you will:


What Is a Speech Outline?


A speech outline lists the main ideas or key topics of a message you wish to communicate.  Outlines list supporting details under key ideas.  These ideas are arranged in a logical order.  This logical organization can help you stay on track as you write with your voice.


Speech outlines utilize complete phrases and full sentences rather than listing one or two words.  For example, with a traditional outline someone might scribe:


1. Molecule sized


In a modern speech outline, the same I item might read:


1. Miniature nano-bombs are machines the size of molecules.  


With these simple examples, it is easy to see how much more helpful a speech outline can be to a writer.  Complete thoughts or ideas are used for several reasons:


First, speech recognition loves phrases and sentences.  Full phrases and sentences allow your speech software’s grammar model to analyze your speech more completely, thereby improving your accuracy.


Second, with voice recognition, speaking in full phrases or sentences is easy, natural, and quick.  (Because handwriting or typing takes more time, traditional outlines tend to abbreviate items.)


Third, because you are speaking in complete phrases and sentences, a speech outline gives you a chance to experiment and try dictating a few phrases and sentences that you may wish to include in your final written copy.  Creating outlines in this way will help improve your speaking fluency and allow you to think completely through your thoughts and ideas.  Speaking in full sentences will also help you to gain confidence and will make you feel more at home with your speech microphone and software.


The Elements of a Speech Outline

Review this sample speech outline.  Notice that speech outlines use: 





I.   Nanotechnology is being researched by the healthcare, military, and computer industries.


A. IBM research scientists are creating nano-bombs.

1. Miniature nano-bombs are machines the size of molecules.

2. Tiny nano-bombs are creating the next industrial revolution.


B. Military researchers are using nano-bombs to help kill deadly biological agents such as anthrax.

1. Small nano-bombs achieved 100% success rates when killing anthrax.

2. Mini nano-bombs are seen as essential tools in defeating biological weapons of mass destruction.


C. Medical researchers are creating nano-bombs that kill diseases.

1. Minuscule nano-bombs are being created to attack E. coli bacteria, salmonella, and cancer cells.


Formal Vs. Informal Speech Outlines


The outline above is a formal outline, the style of outline you may include in an important business report.  However, if you are simply prepairing an outline to help organize your thoughts in advance, you may want to try something less formal, such as the outline found in Picture 1 below. In this example, an informal outline created using Voice Xpress and the Microsoft Word outlining feature.


Regardless of whether or not you use a formal or an informal outline, the basics are the same.  Outlines indent text to show the major and subordinate topics in a clear way.  For example, in Picture 1, the outline was created in Microsoft Word using an informal HTML heading style and tabs to format the outline.


Picture 1:  An Informal Outline Created in Microsoft Word Using Voice Xpress Combined with the Microsoft Word Outlining Feature



Other Advantages of Speech Outlining


After your speech outline has been completed, it can be used as a guide to help you keep your thoughts organized as you speech-write.  A speech outline will help you speak in complete phrases and sentences as you dictate an essay, an email message, or a report of some kind. 

Speech recognition outlines have another advantage.  Speech outlines allow you to discover which words to train before you begin to write.  By training all of these tricky words in advance, your composition can be created with less concern about speech-errors. 

For example, while preparing the above outline, the following words were trained, ensuring that when they are spoken later, their accuracy will be 100%:



BTW:  As we prepared this particular outline, the following words did not need training:  E. coli bacteria, salmonella, and anthrax.  However, depending upon how you say them, you may need to train these words too.


Speaking Steps


The steps for creating a speech outline varies significantly depending on whether or not you're using L&H Voice Xpress with Microsoft Word or XpressPad, or some other speech recognition software product. 


To give you some sense of the variety of outlines you can create with your voice, we have created three separate Speaking Steps exercises.  You may wish to do all three exercises, using the specific software products described in the titles, and learn three different varieties of speech outlines.


Choose the link for the product you will be using:


Informal Speech Outlines Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking with Microsoft Word

Informal Speech Outlines Using Voice Xpress with Microsoft Word

Formal Speech Outlines Using Voice Xpress with XpressPad

Formal Speech Outlines Using Voice Xpress with Microsoft Word


This lesson may be printed and used by

Speaking Solutions customers and

Speaking Solutions trained instructors.


Terms of Use