Thursday, January 27, 2011

Please slow down or i will kick you. What? I said "please."

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If you're not getting it down because it's too fast, stop the proceedings immediately!
How many times have you court reporters out there had days like this? I know I have! Why is it that people talk so quickly? What's the rush? Normal range of speed for someone that is talking is 180 to 200 words per minute. The Court Reporters Board of California gives a ten-minute exam at 200 words per minute with four speakers reading from a transcript. But even though 180 to 200 words per minute is the average for an average ordinary person, some people can go as quickly as 250 to almost 300 words per minute. Now, if you think about it, we have to register everything that the person speaking is saying. It has to go from our ears to our brain and then gets output to our fingers. Eventually it becomes an automatic reaction. But when someone is speaking at a faster rate than you can write down what they're saying, a natural reaction is to drop words, sometimes sentences. It is very important to always have your audio recording during the deposition and/or trial as backup and for clarification when later editing and scoping the transcript at home or in your office. But don't only have that to rely on, people! Make sure you open your mouth and stop them. Who cares if you're interrupting the proceedings? Okay, maybe the attorneys there will be annoyed because you're continuously interrupting them, but just think of how annoyed they'll be when they get a transcript with half of what they said that day and have to pay highway prices for it.

Attorneys, judges, listen up. We are here taking down testimony the best we can. We're only human. If you ask a question and then pause and still hear our fingers pounding away, there's a good chance you're speaking too quickly. If we are right on top of your words, there's a good chance our fingers stop moving about a split second or two after you say something. This means that you can continue when our fingers have rested for that split second.

Have concern for your reporters. Our job is not one that is easy. Maybe make a signal with your court reporter. Let's say you're talking too quickly and the reporter puts her pen on the left side of her laptop that means you're going way too quickly. And if she or he moves it back to the right side it might mean you're talking at a good rate of speed. Think about something that will work for you both.

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