How to Practice Without your Steno Machine

Steno students and working professional court reporters, captioners, and CART providers usually lead very busy lives, complete with work, family, and other personal obligations. For that reason, time is precious and when life calls, we sometimes have to put steno on the back burner while we answer. Knowing how to get practice time in without your steno machine is key.

Many of us have a commute that we'd rather be shorter, but what could be looked at as a waste of time can easily be turned into a worthwhile mental exercise. Fill your iPod or whatever flavor MP3 player you like with fun podcasts, dictated lists, and other audios that are a bit above your speed range.

While the tracks are playing, try mentally stenoing the words as they're spoken. You may find that this increases your speed when you go back to your machine and start writing again. A variation on this method would be to tap out the words with your hand or hands (only if you're a passenger -- 10:00 and 2:00, people!) Lap-tap the alphabet, numbers -- whatever comes to mind.

Or say you're in a boring meeting. You may not be able to get full lap-steno action without your coworkers noticing and giving you the stink eye, but why not bring a notebook to the meeting and jot down the steno outlines of words that come up during breaks in conversation or take down some notes too. Hey, it may even cut down on coworkers' requests to get your notes photocopied for them because they weren't paying attention.

Another way of getting in good practice is to review well-written paper steno notes while on the go, as recommended in this blog post by Stenonerd. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but reading steno really helps our brains associate a good steno outline with the word it represents. Happy mental steno, all!


bumble said...

Great tips! My instructors always used to tell us it's a good idea to always carry some steno notes with you in your purse so that if you're doing something like standing in line at the grocery store you can just whip them out and read while you wait.

I also find myself mentally stenoing things out while I watch TV or listen to music. It just happens without me even thinking about it. I guess that's a good thing!

nerd_for_words said...

One of the instructors told us a story about a student who broke her hand while in theory, but she went to class every day and was there mentally participating in everything. When she got the cast off, she was passing 100 wpm tests!

I always mentally steno to public radio while I'm in the car, and I've made a conscious effort to write down all the words I see every day to add them to the dictionary instead of just mentally filing them away so I'll forget by the time I ever get around to practicing.

Court Reporter Bound said...

Bumble - Yes, it's a very good thing! Keep it up. It's funny. I have a greater appreciation for music now than I did before, if that's possible. Processing the lyrics is much easier. I have no idea how much I was missing before.:)

nerd_for_words - What a cool story! I so believe it, though. Good habit to get in to, writing words down as you hear 'em. I've been doing that a lot lately. Love your #dixbuild posts on twitter too!

Michelle Diehl said...

I find this technique helpful too. While I haven't tried any lap-tapping of steno briefs, I mentally envision outlines during long boring meetings at work.

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