We Tried Dictation for a Day, So You Don’t Have To

May 11, 2024
Article by:
Connon Daly

Have you ever considered going hands-free for a day? The allure of dictating your thoughts, emails, and documents without touching a keyboard certainly has its appeal. Our General Manager, Connon, embarked on this journey, keen to explore the potential of dictation tools like those in Microsoft Word and Outlook. Here’s what he discovered.

The Plan: A Hands-Free Experiment

As someone who enjoys pacing while thinking, the idea of dictating my thoughts while on the move is particularly appealing. While I had dabbled with dictation in the past, it had never been particularly successful. However, with continuous advancements in Microsoft technology, especially in dictation tools, I was eager to see just how far dictation has come.

Microsoft Word and Outlook:

Dictation in Microsoft Word and Outlook was the highlight of my experiment. In Word, dictation proved effective for quickly transcribing my thoughts onto the page. However, it wasn’t without its quirks. Constant monitoring of the transcription led to distractions whenever errors popped up. To maintain focus, I started looking away from the screen, but then I wasn’t sure if it was working correctly, which made me a bit self-conscious about possibly just walking around talking to myself—it wouldn’t be the first time!

The accuracy was generally high, though not flawless. The command for “full stop… new line” sometimes missed the mark. It handled shorter text segments well, but dictating longer pieces like letters or reports often required significant editing afterward. I used Copilot to clean up the text on those occasions, and it worked well—although it tended to completely rewrite the text rather than just correcting it. We must assume that AI transcription features are coming soon.

Microsoft Teams:

Dictation in Microsoft Teams on mobile worked seamlessly, reminding me that you can also record short messages in Teams mobile, which seems like a simpler way of sending information hands-free. Unfortunately, Microsoft Teams on desktop doesn’t have a built-in dictation feature; you must use the Windows Dictation bar, which was fiddly and slow. To be fair, results were mixed. Mobile Teams dictation seemed much more accurate.

Open Plan Office Use:

Another noteworthy challenge arose when I used dictation in our open-plan office. Surprisingly (and unfortunately), the dictation tool near perfectly transcribed the conversations of nearby colleagues, making it difficult to use in public or shared spaces.


While dictation may not replace traditional typing entirely, it offers a compelling alternative for capturing ideas quickly and efficiently. It’s something I need to utilise more often—not just as a novelty but as a regular tool in my writing arsenal.

So, should you try dictation for a day? I say go for it!

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