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10 tips to becoming a star realtimer

By Abby Waller

As the demand grows in the court reporting field for our knowledge and skill in realtime, we must strive to stay ahead of the game when it comes to providing this service that has proven to help keep our profession alive and thriving.

Whether you’re a new reporter or have been working 20 years, it’s never too late to start. Here are a few pointers to be a star realtime reporter:

  1. Get a reliable computer with a serial port and CAT software.
  2. Find out where you will be feeding the realtime. An iPad? Desktop? Notebook? Make sure to have cables for a wire feed. If it’s wireless, you will need a hotspot or router or internet access from another source.
  3. Before any job or proceeding for which you’re planning to provide realtime, educate the user. Whether it be a judge, an attorney, or any number of individuals who are receiving the service, it’s helpful for them to know what they can expect.
  4. Obtain any documents with names, addresses, and specific job terminology to put in your dictionary so your translate rate is the most accurate it can be.
  5. Turn off your automatic running of antivirus software and your screen saver. This can interfere with the realtime feed, sometimes causing your computer to crash, in turn, forcing you to halt the proceedings. Set a more convenient time for your antivirus program to run, such as when you’re asleep.
  6. Use your software to find its “Brief-It” feature. This will enable you to learn and use briefs on the fl y during the proceedings.
  7. Keep your laptop open and follow your own realtime so you are forced to learn where your writing could use fi ne-tuning to enhance your accuracy rate.
  8. At breaks, clean up these “rough” or unreadable spots. Of course, this will save you time later in editing, but it will also make the realtime feed easier to read if the user is going back to refer to a certain part of the testimony throughout the job.
  9. Finally, after the job is over, check in with the realtime user to get feedback. Good or bad, this is always helpful for your next job.
  10. Don’t forget to have fun with this. While this may be a serious part of the future in our profession, it’s an opportunity to learn and become proficient in exciting technology.

Abby Waller, RPR, CRR, is an official court reporter in Sacramento, Calif. She can be reached at