By Brenda Rogers-Fiscus, Deborah Smolinske, and Beverly Thomas
It’s Friday at 7:30 p.m. The weekend has officially started. You’re just kicking back to relax with a movie and some popcorn. Then this email hits your inbox:
“We need someone to cover a three-week asbestos trial starting Monday, daily copy, rough at close of each day, four realtime feeds plus judge, multiple copy orders. Are you available?”
Your first reaction: Woot! You can’t type fast enough: “Yes! I’ll take it!”
As you hit the send button, your eye falls on the postscript you somehow missed on the first reading: “And, oh, by the way, they need the final no later than 10 p.m. every night.”
Are you thinking: “When will I sleep? When will I eat? Will my family remember what I look like when the trial is over? Will I still have a family? Will the dog remember who I am? What was I thinking? I can’t do this!”
Yes, you can
With a seasoned team of scopists and proofreaders, a little prep work, and the latest technological advances in CAT software, you can do this — and live to tell the tale with a smile on your face.
The first step is to start preparing now, before you get that call or email. A small investment of time and effort now will pay off huge when the big day does arrive.
“But why do I need to prepare now?” you may ask. “I may never need such a team. I don’t even work with a scopist/proofreader on a regular basis. What’s the point in spending time on it now? I’m sure I can just post on Facebook or another forum and find all the help I need at a moment’s notice.”
Maybe; maybe not. Most quality scopists and proofreaders keep a full calendar of work. Forming a good team is always a challenge, even more so at the last minute. Searching for superb help when there is no time for due diligence is a sure recipe for disaster. And, as we all know, even the most foolproof technology can behave like an unruly child, especially when there’s no time to troubleshoot or learn.
Get ready before it happens
First, begin lining up a team of scopists and proofreaders who have extensive knowledge and experience with daily and immediate turnaround work. Do your due diligence. Get references, read testimonials, and pay attention to how questions in groups and forums are answered. You can choose to assemble your own team or you can contact a ready-made team geared exclusively toward daily work.
Second, agree upon a form of communication that will afford all parties the fastest response time possible. Applications like Google Hangouts, Yahoo, AIM, Facebook IM, and Skype are all good options.
Third, have a frank conversation with your team about your expectations and theirs during the course of the job. How do you want to be notified of questionable spots to check before sending out the final? How much — or how little — research do you expect from your team? Do you expect scoping to be done with full audio? How firm are you about having your specific preferences followed to the letter? How will files be transferred back and forth? Who is responsible for putting together the rough? How and when will invoices be sent and when is payment expected?
Fourth, verify your team’s availability as soon as you learn of an impending daily. Send your team any word lists, prior transcripts, and any other information you have that may contain spellings/terms/parties pertinent to the case.
Fifth, set up a short practice session with your team to ensure that you have all the correct settings for your CAT software when performing realtime or daily work.
Finally, relax. You’ve got this! With a solid team behind you, you can focus all your attention on your writing. When there’s a break or it’s lunchtime, you can actually get up and move around, eat a real meal, make a phone call, go outside and enjoy some sunshine. Your team will be there doing the heavy lifting while you get some much-needed downtime to gather your strength for the next round.
You’ll emerge from this experience with a new level of confidence in your skills, your marriage will still be intact, the kids will still know who you are, the dog will still recognize your voice. And you’ll actually look forward to the next time you get that crazy email, knowing that you are equipped with a secret weapon: a proven team of scopists and proofreaders working alongside you every minute with one goal in mind — delivering a finished, polished transcript in record time to your adoring fans – er, clients.
Who’s afraid of that big, bad daily trial now? Not you!
Brenda Rogers-Fiscus, Deborah Smolinske, and Beverly Thomas are the primary team members of Perfect Partners Transcript Brigade, which was established in 2014. Learn more at transcriptbrigade.wordpress.com.