Court Reporter – “Writing Short”

As an audience member at the 2012 Deposition Reporters Association Annual Convention for the great Mark Kislingbury’s keynote presentation, I found myself (a court reporting veteran of 31 years) in awe of how the “young people” are writing steno.  I know I am a really good writer.  I am a Certified Realtime Reporter, and I write clean realtime for some of the fastest talking attorneys in San Diego.   YET this week, watching my strokes, I became conscious that I write dozens and dozens of words in three strokes.  I don’t phrase enough.  I am working much too hard banging at the keys.

Kislingbury wrote unfamiliar sustained dictation at the conference at 295 words per minute for 30 seconds with two errors.  He stood as he wrote on his Stenovation machine, and I could see he barely moved his fingers.  (FYI – A question was asked if a person should practice on the same machine as they use when on a job.  His answer was as long as you can adjust your machine to have shallow strokes, it doesn’t matter what machine you use, i.e., Diamante or Passport.)    Kislingbury advised everyone we need to warm up with a fast five-minute dictation before every job.  Since we are athletes, it makes sense to warm up on something other than an attorney’s admonitions.

As court reporting athletes, we have to warm up, shorten our strokes, and learn new ways of writing.  I believe Magnum Steno is a great resource for shifting our writing to learn to write short.  Briefing is the key to success.  One of the reporters I work with purposely stacks phrases, questions, and answers.  If an attorney is speaking 300 – 350 words a minute and is right on top of the witness’ answers, moving the fingers faster becomes physically impossible.

Let’s all choose a phrase family we will work on for the month of March and see what happens.  I choose something very basic.  I am embarrassed to admit I write “I don’t know” in three strokes and “I know” in two.  I need to incorporate the YO. It seems crazy to use Y for I and O for do, but I plan on doing it anyway.

Let’s all stroke less in 2012.  Maybe we can work up to competing in the realtime or speed contests.  It is incredibly great we have the option to write faster and be even greater than ever.  Being a court reporter means being an athlete.   As someone that started out as a Herman Miller theory San Diego court reporter, there is plenty of room to grow.


@rosaliekramm  Twitter

Register for Updates

Register to receive the latest news and updates when we post. We regularly publish no-fluff articles on our website. The articles range from topics that specifically apply to attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants, or court reporters, to topics that apply to most legal professionals.

Thank you for registering for email updates!

5 replies
  1. Rosalie Kramm says:

    I agree that Kislingbury is great. He is a great inspiration for court reporters and truly wants everyone to be great. It takes some time and effort, but so does everything that is worthwhile. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Rich Alossi says:

    The lesson in all of this is that each and every one of us can improve, if even just a little bit, one step at a time. I really went home from the convention a believer in writing short! I learned so much that I’m trying to not get overwhelmed with shortcuts. Starting to tuck the final -D in with my words rather than come back for them in another stroke as I was taught in school.

  3. Angie Messenger says:

    Great article. I’m really looking forward to his seminar this weekend! My goal for 2012 is to FINALLY hook up for realtime. Fingers crossed!

  4. Word Warrior says:

    I support Mark K’s efforts in training a new generation of slick, short-stroked steno writers. They will breathe new life into the reporting profession. For us veteran reporters who have been writing things out for 20 plus years and now realize that we must train ourselves to write short, well…I propose we think of ourselves as one of the Radio City Rockettes, who are known for training with weights on their ankles so that come show time when the weights are removed, they kick like you know what! So if we’ve sustained those fast-talking attorneys for all these years while writing out “I don’t know,” imagine how high we can kick once we take those ankle weights off and take it down to one stroke!

Comments are closed.