Steno – The Olympics – It’s the StenOlympics!

Steno and the Olympics rarely, if ever, collide!  I’m here to change that.  This blog should probably be in 2 parts – “StenOlympics” and “What Students Can Learn From Olympic Athletes.”  But it’s in 1 part, so deal with it 🙂

Time for the StenOlympics!

I understand that NCRA holds the speed contests each year, and that’s great!  But how about a bigger show every 4 years?  Yes, we should still have the speed contests, but how about some new features.  Examples –

Freestyle writing – Everyone hooks up to their CAT software – a paragraph is read very slowly – steno writers take it down – then we check to see who wrote it in the least amount of strokes (accurately).

Focus writing – Again, a paragraph is read.  But this time, steno writers get Koosh balls thrown at them.  It will test both their writing and dodging ability – kind of like a court reporting version of Wipeout.

Surprise Steno! – You sign up for this before the convention.  At any point during the convention, an official can come up to you and have you write a paragraph on the spot.  Then again, that means everyone would have to carry their machine and computer around at all times.  Maybe I haven’t thought this one through.

Guinness Record Attempt – Okay – this one is serious.  I think that every 4 years, NCRA should allow between 3-7 of the best steno writers to go for the world record.  Yes, I’m biased, as I helped arrange the last one.  But I think it was an amazing event!

Steno Students and Olympic Athletes
(partly from a StenoLife article)

We’re right in the middle of the Olympics – fun times in Sochi!  Ice skating is always the most watched event.  I can’t say that I will watch any of it this year – just not my thing.  But I DID watch the year Sasha Cohen fell down twice in the finals… and won the silver!  Besides failing to show up, falling down is the very WORST thing you can do… and she fell twice… and she won silver.

There are a couple lessons here for court reporting students.  First – the obvious one – you can stumble and still be victorious.  This goes for tests, schooling and life.  You can royally screw up a section in a test, finish strong, and pass it.  That’s a fact.  You can slack off in your studies, start fresh, and succeed.  That’s a fact.  You can make wrong choices in life, make some minor adjustments, and get back on track.  That’s a fact.

Another scenario… Yevgeny Plushenko is in the last minute of a brilliant routine.  A triple toe loop – stuck it!  A double axle – nailed it!  A quadruple Flargen – yes!  Okay, I made the last one up.  But just as he goes up for a triple Lutz…SPLAT!!  Yevgeny hits the ice and ends up on his back (gasps!).  He rolls over… elbows on the ice… and shakes his head, upset with himself.  And he lays there… and lays there… and the music plays… and… he… lays… there.  We’ve seen it a million times before.  Just when…what?!  We haven’t?!

Oh, that’s right!  When skaters fall, they DON’T just lay there!  Before you can blink, they’re back up on their skates and continuing with their routine – like they never missed a beat!  Not only that, they have a smile on their face!  Now, I’m not naive.  I realize they are forcing those smiles, but still!  They fall.  Commit the biggest error they can make.  And they hop up and power forward like it never happened.  That’s what Brian Boitano would do, and that’s what you need to do too.  You fall, you get up.  You error, you correct.  You slip, you steady yourself.  Be a skater and go for the gold!

Share this post with others!  Select your social source icon below.

Posted in General Steno Info | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Court Reporting Students – Learn From Kids!

Court reporting students spend pretty much all of their time learning from adults.  That’s a big mistake!  Little kids, pure and energetic, sometimes have a lot more to offer in terms of advice, energy and common sense.  Sometimes the basics work.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Court Reporting Students Love to Compare!

For the court reporting students who insist on comparing themselves to every other student in class — and other classes — and other schools — we offer the following advice…


You need to understand that students aren’t clones — you can’t compare progress in a reasonable manner.  No one has exactly your life — family — religion — hobbies — job.  There are way too many variables to do a fair comparison regarding progress.  You need to let that go and stay within yourself – create your own path to the finish line.  And if you MUST compare, don’t forget to compare yourself to all the court reporting students who dropped out of school — you’re WAY ahead of them 🙂

The Mental Breakdown!

There’s no doubt about it — court reporting school is challenging!  It can be hard to get up each day and sit down behind that steno machine.  And even when you do, sometimes it’s hard to focus and be productive.  For the court reporting students dealing with the daily grind of testing and failing and writing and stumbling and practicing and fumbling and forcing and finally succeeding, we offer the following words of wisdom…


The Energy!

You can’t always rely on outside sources to get you pumped up.  You need to be your biggest cheerleader!  So for the court reporting students who just can’t seem to get things into gear each day — to pump themselves up enough to knock out some productive steno practice, we offer up the following ball of energy…


So there it is – you can learn a lot from kids!

Smart Kids

Court reporting students can learn a lot from kids!

Share this post with others!  Select your social source icon below.

Posted in General Steno Info | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Nipples! A Court Reporting Reader’s Nightmare!

I started off in the court reporting world as the lowest of the low…a reader!  For those of you who have never taken live classes in court reporting school, the reader is the one who reads to you each day, ideally with a clear voice and at the right speed.  Students don’t often tell the reader, “Nice job!” when you’re doing well, but you often hear, “You suck!” when you mess up.  But I’ll get more into the reading experience in another post.  Today is about one day in particular…one second in particular.

I was already a few months into the job, so I knew how things worked by this point.  There was nothing exceptional about this particular day, good or bad.  It was a  just a day.  I was fortunate enough to be reading 2-voice dictation with my sister, Jodi (a former court reporter).  We worked well together.  There were about 30 students in the class – all female.  Yes, that matters to the story.

The Court Reporting Nightmare…

We were reading a witness ID – pretty general stuff.  She read the questions – I read the answers.

Q – What color hair did she have?
A – Brown hair — kind of long.
Q – Do you remember what her shirt looked like?
A – Just a plain, white shirt.

You get the idea.  We went back and forth like that for a long time, until…

Q – So how would you recognize her?

I was SUPPOSED to say, “From her clothes, her hair and her face.”  Instead, I said,

A – From her clothes, her hair and her nipples.

Silence.  Nobody moved or made a sound for about 10 seconds.  I just said “nipples” in front of about 30 court reporting students – all women.  Finally, my sister lost it.  She started laughing, then the rest of the class joined in.  It was too much for me and I walked out without making eye contact with anyone.  I walked straight to the bathroom where I proceeded to repeat in my head, “Nipples?!”

After a couple minutes, my sister knocked on the door.  I didn’t answer, but she came in anyway, trying to hold back a smile.  “I still need you to read the test.”  Was she nuts?!   I told her I wasn’t going back, at least not today.  “You’re a court reporting reader – your job is to read, not be perfect.  Just do the best you can.”  And this part I remember well, because I’ve heard it a million times since from students – I said, “But I’m reading (writing) like crap today.”  And her response, “Get over it.”  Well, there really wasn’t much I could say to that.  She was my older sister and she would have beaten me up if I didn’t do what she said.

I walked back into that court reporting room and looked at all the faces…smiling faces.  I just shook my head and said, “Nipples.”  They laughed.  Yeah, I did try to explain that I had no clue where it came from, but it really didn’t matter at that point.  And I did read that test, and I did make mistakes, and no one died.  Lesson learned 🙂

Court Reporting Reader

Share this post with others!  Select your social source icon below.

Posted in General Steno Info | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Steno Briefs Don’t Work in Court Reporting!

Okay – maybe the title of this article is a little harsh.  Steno briefs in court reporting DO work.  But there’s a time and a place for everything.  I have a saying in my SimplySteno program – “You need to learn the longcuts before you can learn the shortcuts.”  You have to have that foundation of at least knowing how to write things out before you can trim away the fat.  I know the urge is write short, short short!  And you can…but not from Day 1.

Like the image below, using steno briefs might get you to the cheese faster, but you may do some damage along the way.

Steno Briefs

Steno Briefs Logic –

At 60 words per minutes, it takes 6 seconds for the speaker to say, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury.”  That’s one of the first steno briefs learned in Briefland.  One stroke for 6 words – look at all the time you saved!  But you also may have just screwed yourself.  Because I may just say, “Ladies and gentlemen in court today.”  And here you are…waiting…relishing that moment when you can use that fancy steno brief you learned.  Only problem is, I didn’t say what you wanted…and now you’re 6 words behind.

You may said, “It’s okay, I have a brief for ‘Ladies and gentlemen” too!'”  But what are the odds, with you as a brand new student to speedbuilding, of you going back, using the proper steno brief for that, then picking up the 3 words after that, while staying on track?  I’m going to say the odds are roughly…zero percent.

There comes a point – I believe around 120-140 words-per-minute – when students start to hear words as a phrase (when it happens), rather than just hearing them as singular words.  That’s when steno briefs really start to come in handy – when you can hear a phrases while you’re trailing.  It becomes a natural stroke opportunity, rather than a forced one.

Share this post with others!  Select your social source icon below.

Posted in General Steno Info | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

State Court Reporting Requirements – What the…?

Has anyone looked at the court reporting requirements in each state – every state?  I have – it’s crazy!

What are my court reporting requirements??

My very first job in this field was working at a court reporting school in California in about 1995 – Donna Cole School of Court Reporting.  This was pre-Internet, basically.  So all I knew about court reporting I learned in that big, square building.  I didn’t even really give much thought as to what court reporting was like across the rest of the country.  I just assumed it was all the same -the court reporting requirements were a 200 4-voice test, 15 minutes at 97.5% (now 10 minutes).

It wasn’t until I started my first online business, SpeedBuilders, that I realized how messed up things were.  I knew you could qualify to take the CA CSR by passing the RPR first…but I then found out in some states you ONLY had to pass the RPR exam…or pass the machine part of the RPR exam and the academic portion of the state exam…or some eye-twitching combination of the above to become a CSR…or RPR…or CRR…or LSR…or whatever.  Let’s break it down.

Court Reporting Requirements by the number –

  • 26 – States that require certification of some kind to work as a deposition or court reporter.
  • 19 – States that require NO certification to work as a court reporter (other than maybe a notary license).
  • 10 – States that require the RPR exam to work as a court reporter (not counting reciprocity).
  • 8 – States that have a voluntary certification exam.
  • 6 – States that have a CSR exam…though it’s not always the same exam content as the CSR exam in another state…or the RPR.

Examples of variations –

  • Washington gives a 200 words-per-minute 2-voice test – 5 minutes – 95%.
  • California gives a 200 words-per-minute 4-voice test – 12 minutes – 97.5%.
  • The RPR is 225 2-voice, 200 jury charge and 180 literary – 95%.
  • Part of the Missouri exam is 200 medical or technical.
  • New York has part of the test as a 175 words-per-minute medical 2-voice.

And there’s even one state that REQUIRES students to graduate from a campus school within the state if they want the opportunity to take the state exam.  Not so odd…till you find out there’s only 1 court reporting school in the whole state!

And none of the above addresses the fact that if you pass the RPR exam in one state, you may obtain the court reporting requirements to take the CSR exam in another…or not!  Or that passing a test in one state may not carry over to another state!

Can we please make this easy and get on the same page in all 50 states?!  I still don’t understand the logic of states that want their own certification exam.  I don’t accept arguments like, “We hold our reporters to a higher standard.”  That’s baloney.  And for states that have NO certification, it’s time.  We need to create a united front, with court reporting requirements across the board that prove our skills.

Let’s get on the same page!

Share this post with others!  Select your social source icon below.

Posted in General Steno Info | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

A Court Reporting Blog? In 2014? Really?!?!

A new court reporting blog in 2014?  Or ANY blog?  Really?  Wasn’t that something people did in 2008…and now it’s over?  In all fairness, I’ve been pretty busy working on SimplySteno, SimplySteno Live, StenoLife, SpeedBuilders, StenoTube, RPRprep, CSRprep, StenoWatchdog…and a documentary about court reporting – For the Record!  So cut me some slack.  That being said, I’m also probably the last person on Earth who has a VCR, so…

So how will this blog differ than any of the 400 other court reporting blogs out there?  Well, those bloggers don’t know what’s in by brain, so there’s that.  I’m not saying my insight is always going to be brilliant, but it’s always going to be my own.  I will share my thoughts on the state of court reporting, court reporting schools, important people in the field and education in general.  And I’ll give updates on what’s in store for the SimplySteno program – something I’m always excited about.  I can’t believe our online program is coming up on 10 years soon!

court reporting blog

But like the image above, I’ll just try to be human and share some stories related to court reporting and life.  Some are funny.  Some are serious.  Some are embarrassing (mostly to me).  There’s no shortage of experiences – I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years now!  And unlike most people in this industry, I didn’t choose court reporting – it chose me.  I fell into it, then realized I was in love with it.  But I’ll save that story for another blog.

I’ll do my best to blog every Tuesday, with other smaller posts in between, so make sure to check back often.  I can’t say you’re always going to agree with what I have to say – or that I’ll always be politically correct – but I hope you can see that my comments are always coming from a good place.  I really want to help students and this occupation.

Share this post with others!  Select your social source icon below.

Posted in General Steno Info | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments