Training the Speech Feature
Microsoft Office 2003 provides you with the ability to enter information into the Office applications using a microphone. You can also enable access to an application's menu system using voice commands. The Speech feature was first made available with Office XP.
Before you can really take advantage of the Speech feature, you must provide it with some training so that it can more easily recognize your speech patterns and intonation. After the Speech feature is trained, you can effectively use it to dictate text entries or access various application commands without a keyboard or mouse.
The Speech feature is actually installed and then trained in Microsoft Word. So, you must run it for the first time from within Word. After you train the Speech feature in Word, you can then use it in your other applications, such as Excel and PowerPoint. Follow these steps to get the Speech feature up and running:
In Microsoft Word, select the Tools menu and select Speech. You will be asked if you want to install the Speech feature; click Yes to continue. After the installation, the Welcome to Office Speech Recognition dialog box appears. To begin the process of setting up your microphone and training the Speech feature, click the Next button.
The first screen of the Microphone Wizard that appears asks you to make sure that your microphone and speakers are connected to your computer. If you have a headset microphone, this screen shows you how to adjust the microphone for use. Click Next to continue.
The next wizard screen asks you to read a short text passage so that your microphone volume level can be adjusted (see Figure 4.1). When you have finished reading the text, click Next to continue.
Figure 4.1. The Microphone Wizard adjusts the volume of your microphone.
On the next screen, you are asked to read another passage. The text is then played back to you. This is to determine whether the microphone is placed at an appropriate distance from your mouth; when you get satisfactory playback, click Finish.
When you finish working with the Microphone Wizard, the Voice Training Wizard appears. This wizard collects samples of your speech and, in essence, educates the Speech feature as to how you speak.
To complete the voice training process, follow these steps:
The opening Wizard screen provides you with a Sample button that allows you to hear how you should read the text that is supplied during the training session. After reading the directions provided on the opening screen, click Next to begin the voice training process.
On the next screen, you are asked to begin reading a sample passage (see Figure 4.2). If you need to pause during the process (the initial training takes about 15 minutes), click the Pause button.
Figure 4.2. You read text passages to train the Speech feature.
You are asked to read text on several subsequent screens. Words are selected as the wizard recognizes them.
Some Words Might Not Be Recognized
If the wizard becomes stuck on a word that it cannot recognize during the training session, click the Skip Word button. This skips the current word and allows you to continue the training session.
When you complete the training screens, your profile is updated. Click Finish on the wizard's final screen.
You are now ready to use the Speech feature. The next two sections discuss using the Voice Dictation and Voice Command features.
The Speech Feature Works Better Over Time
Be advised that the voice feature's performance improves as you use it. If you pronounce your words carefully and consistently, the Speech feature tunes itself to your speech patterns. You might need to do additional training sessions to fine-tune the Speech feature.