Dragon Dictation News

Dragon NaturallySpeaking tips to improve accuracy

Top 5 Tips for getting the best accuracy and
performance out of Dragon Dictate

I thought some new users might want some advice to quickly improve accuracy with Dragon 13.

Some of the tips are pretty simple, but I have taken hundreds of phone calls about issues with Dragon accuracy over the years – most have been solved by following these basic steps.

1. Install the correct accent/vocabulary model for your voice.

Many Australian users setup their new profiles incorrectly and select US English instead of Australian English during user enrolment. Australian accents do not work with US or UK voice profiles. They then train the wrong profile for weeks or months and complain about accuracy. The same goes for anyone using the wrong accent model for their regional accent. You cannot change the accent model once you have done this. You need to start a new user from scratch. Make sure you take time to select the right options – and accent model – when setting up your new user profile.

How to check what accent you have selected? – On the Dragon Bar select PROFILE then MANAGE USER PROFILES then select your user and click PROPERTIES on the right. A window will open and the third option down is the accent model you have loaded. If you have the wrong accent model loaded then you have no choice but to start from the very beginning with a new user profile. Click the NEW button on the top right of the MANAGER USERS box.

2. Use a USB digital microphone approved by Nuance.

The included “free” analogue microphone is marginal.  It will work with a high quality sound-card but it’s hit and miss with most computers. You have spent several hundred dollars on some very advanced speech software and if it can’t hear you well, then you are wasting your time. The best bang for buck USB microphone is probably the Andrea NC181VM USB which is bundled with Dragon but can be bought separately. The NC181VMUSB has the maximum 6 out of 6 Dragon accuracy ratings and is not too expensive.

Cheap Logitech/generic USB brands do not work well with Dragon. I have had more than 50 calls from customers who have bought  USB mics for Dragon then having to buy the NC181VM USB because they did not take my advice. Don’t buy twice. 

3. Run the Audio setup wizard once a day

When you first setup Dragon 13, the software checked your microphone quality and calibrated it for volume. Microphones often get used, abused and generally mistreated. The mic boom moves around a fair bit. All these things make the mic sound a little louder or quieter. If you don’t run the audio check regularly then you might be using a bad microphone for weeks without knowing why your accuracy is low. Or your voice might just be a little faint and the program can’t hear you clearly. You need to re-calibrate the microphone input. Click AUDIO on the DragonBar then click CHECK AUDIO.

Make sure you position the mic boom in the correct position of about 3cm (1.2 inches) from the bottom corner of your mouth. The microphone MUST BE POSITIONED PROPERLY all the time for Dragon to work accurately. I have seen users putting their mic booms in the air like an antenna and then complain about lost accuracy – I’m not joking.

4. Complete the short voice training, then do one more general voice training session.

You can skip general voice enrolment training with version 13. Buy why skip it? The voice training is short, informative and really improves accuracy.

If you have skipped training or want to do more:

On the Dragon Bar – Click AUDIO then Read text to improve accuracy and follow the prompts. Make sure you have run the audio setup first as per the above tip 3. I guarantee you that your accuracy will improve the first time, a good bit the second time and the later sessions less so depending on your voice. Don’t rush your speech and read fast. Read like you are talking to a person next you. Pause after each sentence so it can catch up. Try reading a bit more carefully than normal – but don’t read slowly.

5. Think about what you’re about to say and how you are saying it.

Dragon is not a person. It’s only software. If you mumble, babble, speak really fast, skip words and generally talk to Dragon like you have had one to many beers at your local pub then chances are your accuracy will be pretty low.

Before you utter one single word – think of the complete sentence you want to say first. Not slowly, just clearly enunciate each phrase. Make sure you use PUNCTUATION like “full-stop” UK/Australia or “period” for US users and so on.

Some people are marginally understandable by any human being, who berate their Dragon for low accuracy, despite the fact they sound like a drunken sailor who is trying to deliver a state of the union address. Of course this is an extreme example – just be aware that you may not be dictating clearly and you may even be skipping words. You don’t realise it because you may have been doing it all your life. Bottom line is – examine your dictation style critically and adjust.


I’m not the clearest speaker but my Dragon demonstration video might help. You should be getting results at least as good as this video – that’s my voice.

I hope these tips help you get the most out of speech recognition. Please ask any questions below and I will do my best to answer.

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