Add speed and accuracy to the magic of your convention experience

Contestants for the 2014 Realtime Contest before the contest begins. Many look congenial. They sit in rows with their laptops and steno machines in front of them. In the back are about a dozen observers.

Whether you are a speed and accuracy junkie or just someone who loves to watch your peers perform at their highest possible levels, make plans to compete in or attend the 2017 National Speed and Realtime Contests being held at the NCRA Convention & Expo happening in Las Vegas, Nev.

Registration for both contests is at the halfway mark, and the deadline is drawing near. The Speed Contest is set to take place on Wednesday, Aug. 9, with the Realtime Contest happening on Thursday, Aug. 10. Both events will take place at the NCRA Convention & Expo host hotel Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

NCRA’s National Speed Contest first debuted at the 1909 convention in Lake George, N.Y., pitting Pitman and Gregg pen writers against one another. Today’s contestants continue to fight for top speeds and accuracy rates but on shorthand machines. Contestants face three, five-minute tests of live dictation that includes literary at 220 wpm, legal opinion at 230 wpm, and testimony at 280 wpm. Once done, contestants have 90 minutes to transcribe what they wrote. The transcripts are then graded for accuracy and combined with speed times to determine who makes it to the winner’s circle.

With the advent of realtime software, NCRA introduced the National Realtime Contest in 1999 to showcase members’ instantaneous speech-to-text skills. Just as challenging as the Speed Contest, contestants face two five-minute dictations: one of straight matter at 200 wpm and another of two-voice dictation at 225 wpm. Tests are submitted for grading immediately upon completion of the contests, and contestants must qualify with an accuracy rate of 95 percent or better to have a shot at the top spots.

Both contests offer challenging and difficult tests of skill and endurance. And each year, both veterans and first-timers show up to participate, as do those who just want to observe and be inspired. The JCR Weekly reached out to two members, a veteran participant and an observer, to find out more about what draws court reporters and captioners to the contests.

According to Ed Varallo, FAPR, RMR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Boston, Mass., competing is a way for him to challenge himself. Varallo won the speed contest in 1974, in 1975 (where he scored a perfect score in the 280 wpm testimony leg), and in 1976, and then returned to win again in 1986, in 1996, and in 2006 after having retired from competing for 10 years.

“The men and women who put their skills on the line and enter the National Speed Contest or Realtime Contest are setting an example for all of us. They’re showing us what the most skillful practitioners of our art can do. And I find that inspiring. Makes me want to be the best reporter I can be,” Varallo said.

“If you don’t enter the contest, come watch it. You’ll be inspired. It’s exciting to watch fingers fly as the words pour forth at astronomical speeds! I’ve entered state and national contests and won six national contests. What motivates me is always the same thing: I want to challenge myself the way these other reporters are challenging themselves. Interestingly, when you compete, you’re competing with yourself. It doesn’t feel like you’re competing with the other contestants in the room,” he said.

“Sure, each of us is scored and ranked against all other contestants, but for me, I was happy when I performed well. If I won, well, that’s great, and I’d like to win again. But if I performed well, got a good score, and somebody beat me, I might be disappointed — but I wouldn’t feel defeated because I knew I gave it my best shot. When you compete in a high-speed contest, and transcribe your paper, and especially if you’re happy with your performance, it’s exhilarating! It makes you want to do it again! And, of course, it keeps your writing skills in tip-top shape so that you can be the best reporter you’re capable of, every day. And that’s what a true professional aims to do every day,” he added.

Mike Hensley, RPR, is a freelance court reporter from Evanston, Ill., and a member of NCRA’s New Professionals Committee. At the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo in Chicago, Ill., Hensley had the opportunity to watch the Realtime Contest. He said watching it gave him the chance to be exposed to new approaches and methods to attain high-speed writing while watching the best of the best in the industry live in action.

“I was absolutely thrilled and energized just to be in the room, even as a spectator. I was inspired to set goals for myself to be able to join in the fun at my earliest opportunity. I think there’s always something new to observe from the contestants. Every competition is different. Just like our jobs, each session brings a new experience. The competition is so tight; it’s never certain who exactly is going to win top honors,” Hensley said.

“Before observing the contest, it seemed like such a lofty goal. After observing it in person, I gained the feeling that speed contests were definitely something that I could work towards in my personal development. I haven’t competed yet. Right now, I’m working on attaining the necessary certifications in order to be eligible,” he said.

“Several of my mentors are speed contestants. And there are many other contestants who graciously encourage and inspire others to be the best they can be in the profession. Competition in this arena is fun! The participants eagerly welcome new participants,” he added.

According to Hensley, keeping an eye on speed contests offers many ideas for becoming better as a reporter. Even if you don’t compete, you can learn ways to write shorter, faster, and cleaner, he noted. “You don’t have to be able to write at competition speeds in order to make your own skill set stronger and sharper. Seeing the contest live helps to demystify perceptions about the event and make it more accessible. If you have even the slightest interest, I highly recommend you watch the next contest that you can,” said Hensley.

He also encourages students to make the effort to watch the contests as spectators and use the experience as another opportunity to learn from those who are experienced in the profession.

“The Speed Contest participants are arguably some of the best in the field. Who wouldn’t want to watch the best of the best? Speed contests are also extremely motivating for those who have the competitive spirit. It’s the same as watching Olympic athletes. Not only do you see the results of hard work, but you also get an idea of the training and dedication it takes to reach that level of excellence.”

Are you up for the challenge? Register now to participate in the Speed or Realtime Contests when you register for the 2017 NCRA Convention and Expo at

For more inspiration, be sure to read “Five minutes with Speed Champ Jeff Weigl” and “Five minutes with Realtime Champ Dee Boenau.” For those competing or considering to compete, be sure to read “Top 11 tips from Speed and Realtime Contests graders,” written by Russell Page and Pat Miller, CRI, CPE, veteran members of NCRA’s Contest Committee and long-term contest graders.

Don’t miss all the perks of early registration. Book a room at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino for the opportunity to win — NCRA is offering prizes to those staying in the discounted room block at Planet Hollywood, including a refund of your entire convention registration and a Kindle Fire tablet to those who additionally download the app. Special room rates disappear July 4.

Tri-C annual open house boosts summer enrollment

The court reporting and captioning professions captivated attendees at the annual open house held April 25 by Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Cuyahoga, Ohio. Sponsored by the college’s court reporting and captioning program, the event drew 75 attendees wanting to know more about the career choice and benefits.

Stefanie Sweet, a current student enrolled in Tri-C’s court reporting and captioning program, shares some insight into campus life and educational curriculum with open house attendees.

Stefanie Sweet, a current student enrolled in Tri-C’s court reporting and captioning program, shares some insight into campus life and educational curriculum with open house attendees.

According to Kelly Moranz, CRI, Tri-C’s program manager, attendees got an overview of the court reporting and captioning professions, including information about various work venues, earning potential, flexibility, and the college’s program. Attendees then embarked on a speed networking activity that allowed them to ask faculty, professionals, and current students more about available career opportunities, campus life, and scholarships.

“The opening comments were captioned remotely and put onto a large-screen monitor to demonstrate how captioning works,” said Moranz. “Overall, the open house resulted in numerous inquiries about how to get started, and there has been an increased enrollment in our summer introductory courses.”

Other topics addressed during the speed networking activity included a brief overview of the theory of steno, the importance of good English and grammar skills required by court reporters, examples of real-life experiences shared by professionals currently working in the field, and the chance to try writing on an actual machine.

The secrets of the locals in Las Vegas

By Kevin Daniel

We have a saying in Vegas: What happens in Vegas … shows up on Facebook. No doubt many of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo activities will find their way to Facebook, but in a good way, I’m sure.

As a resident of Las Vegas for the last 16 years, I’m in an exceptional position to suggest some extracurricular activities for Convention attendees. As any Las Vegan can attest, we are all regularly pressed into service as tour guides for family and friends. And this year NCRA asked for some tour advice. I had only one condition: If I’m being asked to be the tour guide, then I get to include my personal — sometimes quirky — favorites on the tour.

Seeing the stars

So let’s start with what Vegas is partly famous for: our headliners and in-residence performers. Celine Dion, Britney Spears, eight or nine Cirques, along with 10 magicians and five mentalists are here, to name just a few. Rather than spend time describing a myriad of options for entertainment, I will refer you to the website This is where I go when I want the latest information on what’s available to see and do in Las Vegas, and it will be more current than anything I could list here. If you’re flexible, there are several Tix Tonight kiosks along the Strip where discounts are available for some shows the same day.

My personal favorite in this category is influenced by my interest in magic as a hobby. Over my 16 years in Vegas, I have seen most of the magicians who have performed here, and my favorite show is Mac King. His afternoon shows are at 1 and 3 p.m. at Harrah’s Casino, and his show is appropriate for all ages. It is dark on Sundays and Mondays.

Dining with a view

In case you haven’t been to Las Vegas in a while, you should know that we now have some of the finest restaurants in the world. Do your research before coming, and you can find the perfect restaurant limited only by your budget. I’m suggesting three restaurants that offer fine dining with some of the best views.

Hands down, the Top of the World Restaurant at the Stratosphere has the best view, with a rotating restaurant 800 feet high.

Next is the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris. From its perch over the Strip, it affords one of the best views of the Bellagio Fountains dancing every 15-30 minutes.

My last suggestion for a nice dinner with a Vegas-only view is Oscar’s Restaurant in Downtown Las Vegas. A former Las Vegas mayor, Oscar Goodman, opened his restaurant in the Plaza Casino at the end of the famous Fremont Street canopy in Downtown Las Vegas.

If food is your passion and the view doesn’t matter to you, there are Foodie Tours and Gourmet Walking Tours so you can sample dishes from multiple restaurants over one evening.

In the food category, my tastes are rather simple: Find the best hamburger and shakes in town. For my money, I like Holstein’s restaurant in the Cosmopolitan. They have a wide selection of burgers and shakes with a full bar to slake your thirst while you wait to be seated.

Thrill seekers

If extreme experiences are your thing, Vegas has a few exceptional hair-raising opportunities. There is the High Roller Ferris wheel at the end of The Linq shopping area on the Strip, just south of the Flamingo Casino. It is a 30-minute ride, with a 540-foot high view of the Strip at the top. Pods with onboard bars are available for the insatiable partiers among us. You know who you are.

There are two major zip lines in Vegas, one between the two towers of the Rio Casino, and two versions of zip lines running the length of the lighted canopy on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas.

And for the adrenalin junkie, look no further than the Stratosphere’s five rides. At the extreme end of extreme experiences in Vegas, there is SkyJump, an 829-foot, 40-mile-an-hour free fall from the deck of the Stratosphere. Bring a change of underwear.

As a former roller coaster enthusiast, I highly recommend driving 20 miles south to Primm, Nevada, to Buffalo Bill’s Casino (featured in the Showtime series “Ray Donovan”), home of The Desperado roller coaster. It’s in my top 10 coasters, nationwide.

513D308D-3E6B-4085-ADFF-310B2B293AEFSightseeing in and around Las Vegas

For getting around Vegas, consider open-air buses with on-and-off privileges, cabs, Uber, and Lyft. The best place to catch a cab in Vegas is to go to the taxi station at any casino’s main entrance. Taxis are not permitted to stop and pick up passengers along the Strip. There is a monorail that services most of the Strip. Buy the day pass if you plan to use it at all. However, the monorail does not service the airport or Downtown Las Vegas.

There are helicopter tours of the Hoover Dam and Bypass, the Grand Canyon, and both day and night tours of the Strip. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the hour-long drive to Hoover Dam. It is now even easier to see the dam than ever before. In 2010, the Hoover Dam Bypass was completed, and you can park a short walk from the bridge and walk the entire one-mile length of the bridge if you like, offering the best views of the Dam.

Kevin Daniel in the electric chair at the Mob Museum

Kevin Daniel in the electric chair at the Mob Museum

Only-in-Vegas museums

At 300 Stewart Avenue, one block off Fremont Street, you will find the Mob Museum, containing such artifacts as the actual Chicago St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall, complete with bullet holes; a real (non-functioning) electric chair; and many priceless pieces from the time when the Mob ran Vegas. This former Federal Courthouse and post office contains a courtroom where some of the historic Kefauver hearings were held.

I may be the only one who cares about the following attraction, but if you’re a fan of pinball games, you won’t want to miss the Pinball Hall of Fame. Within its 10,000-square-foot warehouse, you will find hundreds of pinball machines dating from the 1950s to the 1990s. And except for rotating repair and maintenance, all of the machines are playable. It’s a cab ride from anywhere, located at 1610 E. Tropicana Avenue.

neon.boneyard.las_.vegas_And, of course, I saved the best for last: The Neon Boneyard. If you remember the classic neon signs from Vegas of the past, this museum is a walk down memory lane. Many of the signs were salvaged, stored, and some restored in this outdoor stroll through the Boneyard. Available only by booking ahead of time, you can take day or night tours or photo tours, or book weddings and other “special events.” Dates and times are filled well in advance, so if you would like to take this tour, consider booking soon.

Two special venues

There are more live entertainment theaters in Las Vegas than I can count, but I couldn’t close this article without mentioning two special venues and attractions available at the time of NCRA’s Convention. The first is a concert by Lady Gaga on Aug. 11 at our new arena, T-Mobile Arena, on the Strip. I’ve attended dozens of live concerts in Las Vegas, and far and away, the sound here is the best in Vegas. I’m certain Lady Gaga is sold out, but if you’re willing to deal with online scalpers, I’m sure tickets can be found.

A hidden community treasure is our 5-year-old performing arts center, The Smith Center. Our 2,000-seat main theater is one of the newest and nicest in the United States, and our Broadway musical series has a play running the week of our Convention. The play is titled “Something Rotten,” and information about the play and tickets can be found at

I hope my suggestions start you thinking about your visit to Vegas this summer. While the temperatures may exceed 110 degrees on the Strip in the summer, you should bring a sweater for the seminars and casinos in general. Start your day with a bottle of water to stay ahead of dehydration. It’s a constant concern in Las Vegas in the summer. And any time you are making plans where specific arrival times are important, such as dinner or a show, allow at least double the travel time you think is necessary. Visitors to Las Vegas are always amazed at the time it takes to walk or cab to another location.

Now you know some of the secrets of the locals in Las Vegas. Welcome to my Las Vegas.


Kevin Daniel, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a freelancer in Las Vegas, Nev. He can be reached at

Free breakfast included with your 2017 Convention & Expo registration when you book your stay with Planet Hollywood

Breakfast plate with eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes, a waffle, and a chocolate-covere strawberry

By Janine (Uploaded by Fæ)

Book a room at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino by June 4 and free breakfast will be included with your convention registration. Planet Hollywood is the host hotel for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. Getting free breakfasts by staying at the official hotel during this year’s convention, Aug. 10-13, means an additional $75 value on top of the special room rates secured by NCRA.

There are even more ways to stay to play in Vegas. Attendees who register now to stay in the Convention room block at Planet Hollywood will be automatically entered to win one of two full refunds of their entire registration to the event. Also, attendees who register to stay at Planet Hollywood on Friday and Saturday nights are eligible to win one of six new Kindle Fire tablets in a giveaway.

In addition, attendees of the 2017 event will experience a Premier Session like no other NCRA has ever offered, when keynote speaker and Las Vegas icon Steve Wyrick, known as the Daredevil Magician, will motivate the audience as he shares personal insights to his success sprinkled with a touch of magic.

Other highlights of the 2017 Convention & Expo include the installation of NCRA’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors, the winner of the Distinguished Service Award, the results of the national Speed and Realtime Contests, the announcement of scholarship and grant recipients, and top-notch speakers addressing the topics and issues relevant to today’s court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, students, and school officials.

Register now to experience the magic of the NCRA Convention & Expo and these special savings on room and registration costs before the chance disappears. Visit NCRAorg/meetings to register now.

Small group, big learning at the NCRA State Leadership Conference

Group shot of the NCRA Leadership Conference attendees

Photo by Lindsay DeWaide, RMR, CRR

NCRA’s State Leadership Conference, held in late May in St. Louis, Mo., was the first to bring to bear the full weight of the national association to a regional event.

“Beyond a doubt awesome,” said Linda M. Dattilo, RPR, executive director for the Missouri Court Reporters Association, of the new regional focus. “I attended the [national-level] NCRA State Leadership Conference many years ago and NCRA Legislative Boot Camp, and I got far more out of this conference. Perhaps it was the smaller number of attendees or the terrific leaders who put the conference on. All I know is I have a lot of ideas now for the Missouri Court Reporters Association that I can’t wait to get working on.”

The smaller group size was cited as being conducive for greater learning and better camaraderie by many of the participants. The conference included presentations by NCRA President Tiva Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS; President-Elect Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC; Interim CEO & Executive Director Dave Wenhold; and Manager of State Government Relations Matt Barusch.

“I was presented with so much information, such as learning how to run an effective board meeting, understanding budgets, the nuts and bolts of association work, and how to communicate effectively with our members,” said Dana Webb, president-elect of the Tennessee Court Reporters Association. “The knowledge I derived from this conference will truly be invaluable as I embark on becoming president of the Tennessee Court Reporters Association, and it will help me to make the most of my leadership role to better our association and our profession.”

“They taught us so many helpful tools in leading an effective board meeting, recruiting new association members, ideas about promoting our careers to high school students, and so much more,” agreed Jill Pilkington, RMR, who is president-elect of the Nebraska Court Reporters Association.

“The regional leadership conference in St. Louis was, in my opinion, time and money well spent,” said Lance Boardman, RDR, CRR, who is a director for the Ohio Court Reporters Association. “It was gratifying to know that much of what is recommended by NCRA as to how to run a state organization the Ohio Court Reporters Association has already implemented. On the other hand, there was much that I, as an individual, did not know about processes and procedures. I think there is generally a fairly large knowledge gap between people’s perception of how things are run and the reality, and that gap, for me at least, has now been mostly filled.”

The conference was designed to provide state leaders with information about working as an association that is often not easily found elsewhere, including how to fulfill their roles as state leaders in line with industry best practices. In addition, state leaders exchanged information about what is going on in their states to build connections between organizations and individual state leaders.

“As a newer member to our State Board, I met some great leaders in our profession,” said Jackie Rupnow, RPR, CRI, who is part of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association board. “I loved that Tiva and Chris played an integral part of this training. Their insight was invaluable. I left this conference having made some lifelong friends, but, best of all, it reenergized me in wanting to do more for our profession and be a better leader. I would recommend this conference to anyone interested in gaining more insight into how to become a more effective leader.”

As Boardman summed up: “The best part of all: I got to finally meet some longtime online friends and made a lot of new ones from around the country.”

NCRF Purple Heart event highlighted in association magazine

JCR logoAssociations Now posted an article on May 19 that notes the Purple Heart Day, as part of the Veterans History Project, hosted by the National Court Reporters Foundation at the 2016 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Read more.

Convention keynote speaker will help you create magic at your fingertips

NCRA has announced that Steve Wyrick, known as the Daredevil Magician, will present a motivational speech during its Premier Session on Friday as part of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo being held Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev. Wyrick’s speech will connect the themes of magic at your fingertips with the passion so many court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers have in the profession. Attendees should plan to “leave with the realization that the answers to each of our lives exist within the magic we all possess,” says Wyrick of the session.

Photo of Steve Wyrick (daredevil * magician * TV reality star) in front of a sports carWyrick, who is passionate about magic, explains: “Every person needs as much magic in their life as possible. I experience magic every day. In fact, magic is all around us if we just open our eyes and our hearts. I am fortunate enough to be able to share my secret with my audiences how to recognize the magic and little miracles that happen all around us every day.”

Wyrick is a Las Vegas icon and headline entertainer who has performed for kings, queens, and presidents. Throughout the years, Wyrick has won many awards in magic, including the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. More recently, the International Magician’s Society, the largest magic organization in the world, bestowed on him the Merlin Award for “Magician of the Year.”

Wyrick’s appearance at the NCRA Convention seeks to help attendees find the magic in their own lives and help them visualize their dreams and make them reality. “I have always been able to visualize the impossible. I believe you must be able to see your dreams in order for them to become reality,” says Wyrick. “I’m excited to share a few simple secrets and beliefs that I have developed and utilized in my life over the years. This process can be followed and applied by anyone to pursue their dreams. It is possible to live your dream.”

The session promises to reinspire in attendees a passion for the profession, reminding them that they have the magic at their fingertips. “I have found that there are few things in life that are truly impossible to accomplish if you decide, dedicate, and choose to do them,” says Wyrick. “The most fulfilling reward is to see the look on the faces of people from 9 to 99 years old captivated by my magic and illusion through the power of compelling storytelling.”

The Premier Session will also feature the announcement of the winner of NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award and the installation of the 2017-2018 NCRA Board of Directors. Register now.

Make your Convention & Expo magic by staying at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino

Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas Strip

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

NCRA members attending the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., are reminded that, by booking their stay at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, they not only receive a specially negotiated room rate as well as a lower daily resort fee in a four-star hotel but they are also supporting their Association.

When NCRA negotiates special room rates at hotels serving as the host site of its meetings, it also is able to secure valuable savings on meeting rooms and exhibit space. Such negotiations are standard practice in the association-meeting world. Another standard practice is that the hotel negotiates that the group holding the event is responsible to incur the costs of any unreserved rooms. The reason is simple. When hotels negotiate with groups for sleeping and meeting space, the sleeping rooms are held in a block, which means they are not made available to other guests. Rooms unfilled in a hotel’s room block can often create a financial burden on the organization holding the event because the hotel’s loss is commonly passed along to the hosting organization, and that, in turn, typically causes the costs of future events to increase.

Great savings on a four-star hotel is just one major benefit to staying in a host hotel when attending an event. Other benefits include convenient access to meeting rooms, the expo site, networking opportunities, and a guest’s reserved room. For the Planet Hollywood venue, guests will also enjoy the convenience of nearby shopping, top-rated restaurants, spas, and more.

The bottom line is that staying at the conference hotel gives attendees a better conference experience and helps keep registration rates low. Do your part to support NCRA and to help ensure costs of future events are kept at the lowest rate possible, not just for you, but for others in your profession who also attend them.

“NCRA is committed to supporting its members by providing the best value possible. One such member benefit includes lower lodging rates and registration fees related to annual events,” said NCRA President-elect Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC. “We appreciate our members who are committed to supporting their Association by taking advantage of the special room rates negotiated on their behalf with Planet Hollywood. The 2017 Convention & Expo — ‘Magic at Your Fingertips!’— is sure to be an exciting and fun-filled event.”

Top five reasons to stay at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino during the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo

  • Opportunity to win — NCRA is offering prizes to those staying in the discounted room block at Planet Hollywood, including a refund of your entire convention registration and a Kindle Fire tablet to those who additionally download the app.
  • Organic networking opportunities — There are always convention attendees in the lobby, at the coffee shop, or in one of the several restaurants located in Planet Hollywood, providing additional chances for networking outside of scheduled events.
  • Fast commutes — Staying at Planet Hollywood means a quicker trip to meeting rooms and networking venues as well as the ability to zip back to your room for a quick break without missing all the magic the convention has to offer.
  • More time on the expo floor — Attendees who stay at Planet Hollywood will spend less time walking or taxiing to off-site lodging locations and more time on the expo floor.
  • Shopping and dining at your fingertips — Planet Hollywood offers its guests easy access to top-rated restaurants and exciting shops all under one roof.

Book your hotel and register now.

VHP event hosted by ICRA in the news

JCR logoOn May 1, The Messenger, Fort Dodge, Iowa, posted an article showcasing a Veterans History Project event hosted by members of the Iowa Court Reporters Association and the 2nd Judicial District.

Read more.

INTERSTENO: Demystifying the Intersteno Speech Capturing Competition

By Laura P. Brewer

Are you curious about the Intersteno speed competition (referred to as Speech Capturing at Intersteno), but your eyes glaze over when people start talking about four-point versus one-point penalties; sections A, B, and C; incremental speed increases; testing strategy; and tables for syllables per minute in seven different languages?

Take heart — you are not the only one who gets confused! But don’t let that stop you from participating in something that just might be the highlight of your career. Attending an Intersteno conference and competing in one or more of the competitions is a rewarding and fun experience like no other, and it provides an opportunity to travel to interesting destinations and meet people from around the world who are excited and enthusiastic about stenography.

Next summer – July 2017 – the Intersteno conference will be in Berlin, an interesting and vibrant city with convenient air connections from most major U.S. cities. English is widely spoken in Germany, and German cities are modern, safe, and interesting, making them ideal tourist and business destinations. Team USA is looking for reporters who are interested in joining the American contingent at the Olympics of court reporting, and we would love to see you.

At its core, Intersteno’s Speech Capturing competition is a speed competition, most similar to the literary portion of the annual NCRA Speed Contest. The table below contrasts Intersteno’s Speech Capturing competition with NCRA’s Speed Contest.

Intersteno Speech Capturing Competition NCRA Speed Contest
Length 3 5-minute segments, dictated as one 15-minute take with a pause at the conclusion of minute 5 and minute 10 3 5-minute segments, dictated as separate takes
Speed Literary material (United Nations or European Commission texts)


Speed is by syllable count and increases every minute


Section C

Slowest speeds

From roughly 92-132 wpm


Section B

Moderate speeds

From roughly 144-192 wpm


Section C

Fastest speeds

From roughly 205-258 wpm


Literary: 220 wpm

Legal Opinion: 230 wpm

Testimony: 280 wpm


Speed is word count, not adjusted for syllabic density, so the difficulty can vary depending on the word density of the text.

Rules Rules subject to change before each Intersteno Congress Rules generally remain the same from one year to the next



Intersteno weights errors by their significance (Intersteno calls them “penalties”):


-4 points – Any error that changes the meaning of the sentence; the first word of a drop.


-1 point – All other errors or subsequent words in a drop.


-Repeated errors counted only once.

Same guidelines as RPR “What is an error?”


-1 point – each error


Scoring and Maximum Penalties allowed Sections graded in three-minute segments. For each three-minute segment passed, the grading continues to the next segment. Contestants need only turn in the highest completed section (C, B, or A).


Allowed errors range from -24 points to -57 points per three-minute segment as you progress from the slowest to the fastest dictation.




95 percent accuracy required to qualify. Contestants must qualify on all three sections in order to hold a place in the overall rankings. Each 5-minute segment is graded and scored individually, then an overall score is calculated averaging the three takes:


Literary – 55 errors

Legal Opinion – 58 errors

Testimony – 70 errors

Time to transcribe 150 minutes 90 minutes per section
Form of dictation Recorded Live
Minimum Accuracy to Qualify or Pass 92%. (Note that some errors are -4 points.) Successful competitors must turn in at least one complete section (C, B, or A) and pass the first three minutes. 95%. To qualify overall, each take must have 95% or greater accuracy.

Join Team USA in Berlin and try your hand at international competition. The spirit and camaraderie are phenomenal and really enhance the experience. Intersteno provides a unique opportunity to get to know your colleagues better in a fun atmosphere.

Team USA participation in Intersteno includes:

  • NCRA member Russell Page is a Washington, D.C.,–area reporter and Intersteno board member who will be the proctor for English contestants for the Speech Capturing Competition in Berlin.
  • NCRA member and long-time Intersteno volunteer Linda Drake, of Savannah, Ga, is on the Intersteno Jury and will be in charge of the Realtime Competition in Berlin.
  • NCRA’s Intersteno Committee, comprising Tori Pittman, RDR, CRI, (chair), Russell Page, Linda Drake, Kelly Linkowski, RPR, CRR, CRC, CPE, and Laura Brewer, RDR, CRR, CRC, will also attend

And we hope to see you.

Laura P. Brewer, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a CART captioner in Los Altos, Calif. She can be reached at

More information: