By Ron Cook
Before I even knew what court reporting was, I majored in physical education in college. It was then that I started to see advertisements for court reporting school, and I began to think, “Hey, I could do that.” Shortly thereafter, I dropped out of the college I was attending and began court reporting school, never to look back.
I have often equated the work that I do at my machine during a deposition with that of an athlete. I’ve always been competitive, and I carried that competitiveness over to my writing. What can I do to make myself faster? What can I do to make myself more efficient? How can I beat this machine? How can I get my computer to work for me instead of me working for it? I’d like to share some of the mental approaches I’ve learned to adapt from sports and life, in general, to reporting.
First, you may have heard of the expression to slow things down. A batter will try to slow things down as the pitcher begins to pitch. Obviously, that doesn’t mean that the batter has control of the pitcher’s velocity. What it does mean is that the batter, instead of tensing up, stays relaxed and slows things down mentally. When things get going really fast or things start to get heated, that’s when I’ve noticed myself tensing up. That’s when I know it’s time to slow things down mentally.
I can remember back nearly 50 years ago (please don’t do the math!), when I was on the sixth grade track team. I wasn’t a particularly fast runner, but I’ve never forgotten one race over all others. I remember one race where it felt as though I was running above the ground. My touch was so light, and it was absolutely effortless. When things get going really fast these days, I try to liken my fingers to that day when my feet were seemingly floating on air.
I have another analogy that works for me, so I’ll share it here. Picture yourself driving 65 miles an hour down the freeway. As you look directly in front of you, things are relatively calm and slow moving. If you were to look directly to your right or left, it’s amazing how all things are just flying by. Trees go whooshing by. Cars going the opposite direction seemingly are going 150 miles per hour. Relating that to reporting, if you keep your head figuratively looking straight ahead (as in listening out ahead), the words are processed with ease and good rhythm. If you try to get the words as they’re spewing forth (as in looking to the side while driving), it feels as though they’re coming at you at 400 words per minute. I’ve tried to train myself to kind of sit back (as in looking straight ahead) and let the words and phrases flow.
This has been a process for me, as I’d always been the type of writer who tried to write every word as it came out. I’m training myself to sit back just a tad and listen for that next brief or phrase. For about the past 8-10 years, I’ve been working on writing shorter (thus cleaner), and it’s certainly an ongoing process, part of the journey. Try it. You might like it! And it will certainly help with your accuracy in realtime!
Ron Cook, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, is an agency owner and freelancer based in Seattle, Wash. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.