Court reporting is an essential aspect of the litigation process. From depositions to closing arguments, shorthand reporters ensure that a detailed record of all proceedings is maintained for the record. Even the most skilled experts in this field, however, should continuously practice their skills to keep up with the fast-paced environment of courtrooms and depositions. Here are a few tips on how you can constantly improve:
Improved Writing Speed in Court Reporting
Stellar writing speed is one of the most powerful weapons in any court reporter’s arsenal. Both the National Verbatim Reporters Association (NVRA) and National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) only grant certification to individuals with minimum speeds of 225 words per minute (WPM). Even professionals who hit this mark, however, need to work for constant improvement.
Like any other skill, court reporting abilities can diminish when they go unused. The NVRA provides a multitude of resources that can help you hone and constantly improve your technique. Additionally, you can take the following steps to enhance this skill:
- Take Classes: Advanced typing or stenographer classes will help to improve your speed. Even reading courses can help you expand your vocabulary and learn various inflections and word pronunciations.
- Practice: Your typing speed will increase with the more practice you get. Exercise your skillset while watching the evening news.
- Moonlight: Having a side job in scheduling, secretarial work or transcription will all translate to the courtroom.
- Specialization: Certain areas of the law – such as those involving medical issues – use special terminology. Learning these terms will remove speed bumps when reporting.
- Speed Tests: Taking online speed tests will provide additional practice and show you where improvements are needed.
Maintaining a high WPM is not only beneficial in court reporting – it’s required by licensing organizations. Improving your writing speed will put your skills in higher demand. It will also ensure you don’t miss a thing in the courtroom or depositions.
Improved Accuracy in Court Reporting
While speed is an essential aspect in any court reporting environment, it means little if transcripts aren’t accurate. Simple mistakes in the reporting process can have huge implications for important cases. It can literally hinder an attorney’s ability to win the case they’re working. This is why the NVRA and NCRA require 95 percent accuracy for licensure.
There are a variety of resources available to court reporters that can help improve accuracy. When doing so, however, it’s also important to retain and improve your speed. The first step is to maintain appropriate posture and never forget the basics. Failing in either of these tasks can hinder your abilities. Take the following tips into account as well.
Focus on the Same Passage
As a stenographer, you will transcribe many of the same terms and phrases. When trying to improve accuracy, it’s okay to focus on a single passage. In doing so, you’ll be able to identify where you’re having difficulties and work on correcting them. Once you feel a mastery over a single passage, feel free to work on others.
Utilize Preparation Tests
The internet has an abundance of resources that can help improve accuracy in your court reporting skills. Some of the most beneficial, however, come in the form of online tests. These will gauge both your speed and accuracy, and many come with tips for improvement. Gamification is now even being utilized to make the process fun!
Perfect Your Outlines
The goal of court reporters is to get each word correct on the first try. To do so, you need to first perfect your outlines. Steno outlines are shortcuts for capturing the spoken word, help get spoken words correct while also identifying speakers, adding ‘notes to self,’ punctuating and much more. If you perfect your outline first, maintaining and improving accuracy becomes a simpler task.
Court Reporting for a Winning Case
Court reporters play an integral role in both the courtroom and depositions. It’s only a steady and continued effort, though, that keeps these experts at the top of their game. You should identify the most efficient technique for yourself and utilize it every single day. There are also several things you should look for in a court reporting service if necessity dictates the outsourcing of this task.
At Magna Legal Services, we understand that perfect depositions are the key to any winning case. Contact us today to schedule a deposition to ensure you have every advantage at your disposal.