Attend the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, take away social media strategies to boost business

Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion Arlington, an outdoor concert venue that presents more than 50 free concerts a year, has planned a fun and enlightening look at how social media can be changed from chore to tool in a firm’s business plan for success. Her session is happening at the 2020 NCRA Business Summit taking place Feb. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas.

Need another reason to register now? Early access rates have been extended until Tuesday, Dec. 10 at midnight ET. Act now to get the best price.

O’Neal holds a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Arlington, where she also serves as an adjunct professor in the Communications Department teaching media writing, public relations management, and public relations case studies. She will share with attendees successful social media strategies to help build business.

According to O’Neal, social media can help you gain visibility, reputation, and clients. She will cover the who, what, when, where, and why of social media from the vantage point of a seasoned communications pro who just finished her year with a 3.2 million Facebook reach! O’Neal will help attendees learn how to weed out the stuff they don’t need, focus on the stuff they do need, analyze real-world examples, and help them walk away from the session with action items they can put in practice immediately to start building the social media presence they want. To learn more about what O’Neal has to share, watch her video here.

Attendees of the 2020 NCRA Business Summit will also receive a copy of the 2019 Firm Owners Survey Report. More than 200 firm owners responded to this survey, sharing insights about their firms, including how the latest trends are impacting court reporting, captioning, and legal videography firms, and what the outlook for the future holds. NCRA Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CAE, will present the findings.

This year’s keynote speaker is the energetic Karim R. Ellis, founder of Empowered Education, a company devoted to developing both organizations and individuals. Ellis is a dynamic motivational speaker with 10 years of experience in the arena of speaking, training, and coaching, He takes great pride in cultivating leaders and champions, and his sole desire is to unlock an atmosphere of greatness in the lives of the people he connects with on a daily basis. Ellis will share with attendees his insights into successful leadership creation and development.

Also on the program is Chris Williams, co-founder of Wide Awake Business, established in 2004 to help companies grow. Williams will provide a two-part presentation, which will focus on how to create an easier, simpler, more profitable business. The sessions will cover how to:

  • Spend less time second-guessing yourself and seize the right opportunities
  • Ooze authority and confidence when you speak with prospects
  • Feel fulfilled because your “Big Why” engages more people
  • Enjoy your bank account statements
  • Lead more, build team, and personally do less of the “do”
  • Head out on your vacation without taking calls and putting out fires every day

Other highlights include:

Ron Comers, a former FBI agent and current advisor on corporate security risks through Charted Risk, LLC, who will present “Protecting Your Firm from Scams & Data Breaches,” and offer tips on how firms can keep their files and other information safe in today’s cyber-savvy world;

Chris Moyseos, a financial advisor and financial planning specialist with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, who will lead a session on financial planning and managing personal wealth; and

Opportunities throughout the three-day event to provide attendees with the chance to expand their networks, engage with old friends, and build relationships with new ones. The event kicks off with a fun and exciting team-building activity followed by an opening reception.

Lora Appino Barnett, RMR, a freelance court reporter and owner of Appino & Briggs Reporting Service in Overland, Kan., attended her first Business Summit in 2007, then called the Firm Owners Executive Conference. She hasn’t missed one since.

“With all the recent happenings in the industry, as a firm owner, I am hopeful as an organization we can find ways to combat the so-called digital ‘reporters’ trying to get a foothold in our profession and finding ways to recruit more students into the reporting field. I also look forward to the educational seminars,” she said.

“The networking and friendships that I have made with other firm owners are invaluable; I look forward to seeing them every year,” Barnett said, as she encourages others to register. “I say do it! You will not regret it. We have increased our business with the networking relationships we have made over the years. I very much enjoy the locations that NCRA has chosen to have the conferences; I think you will, too. And I truly value the friendships I have made over the years.”

A special hotel room rate for single/double occupancy for attendees is $209 per night plus tax ($237.73) and the resort fee will be reimbursed by the hotel upon check-in. Hurry! These special hotel rates end on Jan. 8, 2020.

Located on more than 400 acres along the banks of the Colorado River, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, offers a variety of amenities and activities for attendees and their guests to enjoy during their stay. The recreational amenities attendees can enjoy include: A full-service spa, salon, and fitness center; two tennis courts; an 18-hole golf course; hiking, biking and jogging paths; horseback riding; a video arcade; a water park; a meet-and-greet with the facility’s mascots; and more. Plus, if attendees book at the special NCRA room rate before Jan. 8, the resort fee of $35 will be reimbursed by the hotel upon check-in.

  • Early Access: Oct. 15–Dec. 10
    Member: $975; Nonmember: $1,150; Additional Firm Employee: $850; Spouse/Guest: $200
  • Regular Registration: Dec. 11, 2019–Jan. 31, 2020
    Member: $1,075; Nonmember: $1,250; Additional Firm Employee: $950; Spouse/Guest: $250
  • Last-Minute Registration: Feb. 1–9, 2020
    Member: $1,125; Nonmember: $1,300; Additional Firm Employee: $1,000; Spouse/Guest: $300

For more information and to register for the 2020 NCRA Business Summit, visit

Albuquerque City Council approves closed captioning ordinance

Albuquerque, N.M.,  businesses will now face a fine if they don’t turn on the closed captioning on any TV that is open to public viewing, according to an article posted Nov. 18 by KRQE Media.

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Why you should network outside of your industry

By Megan Rogers

It’s important to build a network of colleagues and peers for advice, referrals, and support. But don’t limit your networking to only people with your same job. Especially if you’re a freelancer or firm owner (but even if you’re employed), it’s smart to develop relationships with people in client industries, parallel industries, and non-related industries.

Who to network with

Client industries: Your clients are the ones who hire for your services, but think beyond the obvious answers. There may be potential clients you’re not thinking of. Also, to identify your clients, you need to determine what, specifically, you specialize in.

If you’re an employee, think of the people who receive or are involved with your services as your clients. For example, if you’re an official, this might be a judge or court administrator.

Parallel industries: People in parallel industries do work that aligns with yours and who may have similar clients. For example, court reporters and legal videographers or captioners and sign language interpreters are in parallel industries.

Non-related industries: While steno is a unique skill, many of the other skills that court reporters and captioners need to develop are not, such as grammar, business, or technology skills. Getting to know people in non-steno-related industries, but who still have something in common with you, can expose you to new ideas that can help you professionally.

Where to meet people outside of your industry

The best way to meet people is to go where they go.

Go to their professional development and networking events: What are the associations that represent your clients? Attend their national or regional events and conferences or go to chapter social events.

Find local networking groups: Search on for a group, such as fellow freelancers, videographers, accessibility advocates, and more. Join a local Toastmasters International chapter or something similar.

Ask for introductions: Maybe your cousin’s neighbor is a paralegal, someone in your book club teaches English at the local college, or you have a current or former client or coworker who’s well-connected. Ask for an introduction and then an informal meeting, such as a coffee date.

Why to network outside of your industry

There are three important reasons why networking outside of your industry can help you professionally.

1. Build trust by connecting one-on-one with the people who will give you business: Just like you can get referrals from your peers, professionals in client or parallel industries can also give you referrals. People are more likely to hire someone they know than someone they’ve only heard of (or at least go to them first), so get to know the people who do the hiring for your services. Also, it’s good for you to have parallel professionals you can refer. If you’re hired for a depo, your client may ask if you know any legal videographers — having a list of professionals you trust makes for good customer service.

If you’re an employee, building your network will help if you ever need or want to change jobs or if you want to find more ways to grow professionally.

2. Learn more about what your clients care about: When you talk to people outside of your industry or attend their professional development sessions, you learn a lot: What are they passionate about? What do they struggle with? What are new trends in their industry? Then think about how you can insert yourself and your skills into being a solution for those passions, struggles, and trends. If you’re an employee, you still want to know what your internal clients care about so that you can make yourself more valuable and share new ideas with your boss and coworkers.

3. Get ideas for potential new services you can offer: When you become an expert in the industry you serve, you can brainstorm how your skills can lead to new services for your clients. Maybe you do conference captioning, and you hear that the conference organizers are starting to put video files of past sessions online — are those videos captioned? Can you partner with people in parallel industries, such as event videographers, to offer packages to joint clients?

Similarly, you can borrow ideas from professionals outside of your industry and apply them to your own. Maybe you learn about a new program that can streamline your finances or ideas for marketing your services or tips for handling a client disagreement.

Networking takes time, but it reaps long-term rewards. Expand your circle, and find all the ways a multifaceted network can make you a strong professional.

Megan Rogers is a freelance journalist and proofreader. She can be reached through her website,

Let the warmth and beauty of 2020 NCRA Business Summit venue inspire you

The NCRA 2020 Business Summit offers more than just networking and learning. Located on more than 400 acres along the banks of the Colorado River, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa in Austin, Texas, offers a variety of amenities and activities for attendees and their guests to enjoy during their stay.

Among the recreation amenities attendees can enjoy include: A full-service spa, salon, and fitness center, two tennis courts, an 18-hole golf course, hiking, biking and jogging paths, horseback riding, a video arcade, a water park, a meet-and-greet with the facility’s mascots, and more. Plus, if attendees book at the special NCRA room rate before Jan. 8, the activity fee of $35 is waived. And don’t forget, register for the event by Nov. 30 and save an additional $100.

Besides the beauty of the Austin countryside and warm temperatures typical of Texas, attendees at the 2020 NCRA Business Summit can also expect to enjoy a schedule that offers informative, inspiring, and insightful sessions led by leaders in the business industry.

Ron Comers, a former FBI agent and currently an advisor on corporate security risks through Charted Risk, LLC., will present “Protecting Your Firm from Scams & Data Breaches,” and offer tips on how firms can keep their files and other information safe in today’s cyber-savvy world.

Comers earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of South Florida and a master’s degree in business continuity, security, and risk management from Boston University. Prior to working for the FBI, Comers was a police officer with the Stratford Police Department in Connecticut. He entered duty as a special agent of the FBI in 1995 and was assigned to the Boston, Mass., division, where he worked bank fraud and drug investigations and also served as a member of the division’s SWAT team.

Over the course of his career, Comers has served in a variety of divisions as an FBI agent, overseeing a number of stateside and international investigations.

In 2010, he served as an acting ALAT in Afghanistan in 2010 and as a member of the Major Crimes Task Force charged with developing the investigative capabilities of Afghan law enforcement. For his service, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security.

Other speakers include Cathy O’Neal, communications director for Levitt Pavilion Arlington, who will lead a session about successful social media strategies to help build business; a financial planning session led by Chris Moyseos, a financial planner who will discuss succession and financial planning; and NCRA Interim Executive Director Dave Wenhold, CPE, who will present the findings of NCRA’s 2020 Firm Owners Economic Outlook Survey.

Naegeli announces new scholarship

Naegeli Deposition & Trial has announced a new scholarship to inspire creativity and assist student leaders with self-development.

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6 Things Court Reporters Wish Attorneys Would Do to Improve the Deposition Record

A blog posted Nov. 4 by JD Supra, offers six suggestions court reporters wish attorneys would follow to help a deposition go smoothly for everyone in the room.

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Captioning Awareness Week launches in UK on Nov. 11, London, England, posted an article on Nov. 5, about the arts venues around the country that will take part in Captioning Awareness Week from Nov. 11 to 17.

Read more.

Ask the techie: What’s in your steno bag?

If you’ve ever wondered what members of the NCRA Technology Committee carry with them on their jobs, here’s your chance. A few of them have opened up their steno bags to share with you what they’ve chosen to go to work with every day – photos included!

Here’s the list of what’s in the bag of Sheri Smargon, RDR, CRR, CRC, a broadcast captioner and freelance court reporter from Riverview, Fla.

  1. Luminex and tripod.
  2. Microphone for Luminex.
  3. Luminex charger.
  4. Extension cord.
  5. Cool Table and tripod.
  6. Laptop with charger.
  7. USB cord for Luminex.
  8. USB cord for iPhone.
  9. Charging cable for Android phone (attorneys are grateful when you have the stuff they forgot at home).
  10. Mini stapler.
  11. Tons of pens, Sharpies, and highlighters.
  12. Earbuds (I may get to proof while I wait for a job and have to check the audio).
  13. SD cards.
  14. Flash drives (varying sizes and shapes).
  15. USB Hub.
  16. Extra keypads (never know when one needs to be replaced on the fly).
  17. Business cards.
  18. Exhibits stamp and stickers.
  19. At times, Dymo machine to make exhibits with an extra roll of stickers. Now, I do carry this in its own little bag, but it rests on top of my main carrying case. If it’s going to be an all-day depo, I usually bring this little machine. I can then print off a bunch of stickers at one time.
  20. Calendar for the year-at-a-glance.
  21. Depo book and notice (if I have one).
  22. Post-its in various sizes.
  23. Wite-out (oops happen).
  24. A small USB fan (I’m always warm).
  25. Snacks (I always have Kind bars and crackers of some type in my bag.  You never know if you’re going to get lunch…or for how long).
  26. Rubber bands (for wrangling exhibits and cords after a long day).
  27. Velcro straps (sometimes, I lose one and carry extras to wrangle my cords).
  28. Umbrella (I don’t want to get caught in a Florida thunderstorm with an armful of exhibits).
  29. Gaffer’s tape to tape down my cords and cables if it’s going to be an all-day or multi-day job. I don’t want anyone to trip.

If I’m doing an on-site CART or captioning job, I will also add things like cables and cords, HDMIs and splitters, headphones, and gender-bender connections. I pack my bag to fit the job, and I do it the night before a job. I then place my bag right in front of my door. (I know I’m not the only one who has had the dream of going to a job and realizing your machine is at home.)  

If I have a realtime job that requires iPads, I charge those the night before on a multi-USB charging station; then I bring the charging station, cords, cables, and charging blocks with me.  I also bring my router in case I can’t get internet access for ICVnet.   

If I’m doing a trial, I will also carry an amplifier to attach to the bench, cords, cables, and headphones so I can stay seated while bench conferences are going on. I also toss extra batteries in my bag for the amplifier.

So, pack your bag and eat your Wheaties. Your bag will be heavy, but you’ve got this!

Kimberly R. Greiner, RDR, CRR, CRC, an official court reporter based in Lenexa, Kan., keeps the following handy as she works:

  1. Diamante/tripod.
  2. Laptop/charger.
  3. Foot pedal — I occasionally need one for recorded hearings.
  4. iPads (two standard — one flip case, one hard stand) (one mini in flip case).
  5. Two Diamante chargers — Redundancy pays off.
  6. Two USB cables for realtime (I carry one that is 3 feet and another that is 7 feet.
  7. Three iPad charging cables.
  8. Three USB charging blocks — for outlets without USB port.
  9. External Mouse — I get track pad frustrated.
  10. Earbuds.
  11. Four SD cards —  Always carry a back-up to the back-up.
  12. Flash drives — three of these.
  13. External Hard Drive.
  14. USB Hub — just in case.
  15. iPens X1 — for proofreading on the iPad (it’s my favorite item!)
  16. 3.5 mm male to female (audio feed) 10 feet.
  17. 3.5 mm male to male (audio feed) 3 feet.
  18. Attenuator line male to female with volume dial (audio feed) — I get Nos. 16-18, because I never know how far I’ll be from the audio feed. When I freelanced, conference tables could be 20 feet long.
  19. Small stapler.
  20. Pop-up — small half-oval stand to place paper in (captioner conference tidbit!)
  21. Business cards.
  22. Pens (three or more) — Yes, one is red!
  23. Microfiber cloths.
  24. Spare glasses.
  25. Lotion/chapstick.
  26. Sometimes a small fan.

Alan Peacock, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and freelancer court reporter based in Mobile, Ala., said: “I do not have a short answer for this wonderful question. For me, I have a closet that is chock-full of bags, cables, cords, adapters, antiquated and new devices. I will pack my bag differently depending on the assignment. For example, an onsite CART assignment would require an entirely different setup than a realtime deposition. But for today’s purposes, I’m going to answer the question assuming that I’m going to a realtime deposition.” 

Here is his basic list:

  1. My steno writer and computer — that’s a given. If I’m traveling out of town, I also carry a backup writer and computer. My backup writer is the Lightspeed. It’s light and doesn’t require much room. I carry several SD cards with me as backup as well.
  2. Steno machine charger (and a backup in my car).
  3. Steno machine realtime cable (and an extra in my bag).
  4. iPads and iPad stands and Charger Unity with Charging Cords. Generally, I will carry a couple of extra setups just in case I get the chance to upsell realtime services to a client who did not order. I also keep one extra tablet running at all times by my side so I can easily swap out with someone who runs into trouble and loses a connection or has a technical issue.
  5. MiFi Device — for streaming or for my own private network. If I’m using realtime editors as well, I like to have one internet device dedicated to sending my audio stream to the remote scopist and proofreader and then a separate internet connection for my streaming to clients.
  6. Portable Router — As a backup in case internet fails. I can still stream locally.
  7. A 12- or 24-hour kitchen timer alarm clock — For depositions where the reporter has to track the time, these are cheap, portable and allows everyone to see how much time they have used.
  8. Office-sized stapler — The smaller ones do not do it for me. I like the comfort of having a good sturdy office-sized stapler.
  9. Wall power adapter — for plugging a grounded device into an ungrounded outlet.
  10. Two 6-foot extension cords and one small power outlet.
  11. Velcro carpet cord covers — I have two that are 6 feet each that I can lay on over my wires to prevent anyone from tripping over my cords. You can buy these in a variety of colors and sizes. They fold up nicely and can be stored in a side zipper of a ZUCA bag.
  12. USB thumb drives.
  13. Apple iPad (lightning to USB) thumb drive for saving attorneys’ annotated realtime files.
  14. Apple AirPods (for scoping quietly on breaks or in the hotel).
  15. USB card reader (for reading backup machine card in emergencies)
  16. USB microphone and stand for audiosync.
  17. XLR to 1/8-inch audio adapter for receiving audio from the videographer’s mixer. You may want to carry a male/female XLR adapter just in case.
  18. Machine microphone — I have two for daisy-chaining on long conference tables.
  19. Exhibit stickers.
  20. Ethernet cord.
  21. Computer adapters for VGA, HDMI, and USB C.
  22. Audio/mic splitter cable.
  23. Extra charging station for iPhone and Android devices for the attorney who comes in and needs a charge. It’s not required, but clients remember small courtesies like this.
  24. Pens, paper and highlighters. Always have extra pens. It does not look professional for the reporter to walk in and have to borrow a pen from the attorneys to write down names. Although they are not hiring us to write with a pen, it just seems more professional if you can always remember to stock extras, so you do not have that problem.
  25. Personal grooming bag: As a male reporter, I have found over the years that it’s helpful to carry a BIC razor with me, just in case a spot is missed. In this bag, I also carry mints, aspirin, and small bottle of unscented hand lotion. I also have an extra pair of readers/glasses in case I need them.

Sandra M. Mierop, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, an agency owner and freelance court reporter from Anchorage, Alaska, keeps the following on hand for jobs:

  1. Lenovo and backup Dell for Eclipse/Connection Magic.
  2. Luminex, charger, tripod.
  3. Three hot spots each with different carriers (AT&T, Verizon, local Alaska company GCI).
  4. Six Samsung tablets with charging cables.
  5. Marantz recorder.
  6. Three extra SD/micro SD cards for Luminex and Marantz recorder.
  7. Three USB external sound cards to receive court’s audio for syncing with Eclipse; earbuds for sound check.
  8. External hub with USB and SD ports.
  9. Three Luminex writer-to-computer cables (Samsung tablet cables can work, too).
  10. Exhibit stickers, pens, notepad, business cards, and microfiber wipe.
  11. First-aid kit (Band-aids, Neosporin, ibuprofen, Purell).
  12. Thermos.
  13. Reel-up extension cord with four outlets; small electrical outlet hub adding three extra outlets; gaffer tape.

Michigan court reporters could see per-page pay increase under bill posted a story on Oct. 31 about a bill that could double the current per-page pay for official court reporters within the state.

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The Importance of the Court Reporter’s Neutrality

JD Supra posted a blog on Oct. 17 that offers several common scenarios court reporters face daily and actions they should take to ensure their conformance with NCRA’s Code of Professional Ethics.

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