What Steno Briefs Should you Learn Right Now?

As court-reporting students, you are faced with a constant flood of new outlines to learn.

Nobody knows all of them, and nobody can learn all of them right now.

And that begs the question, “What briefs should you learn right now?”

The answer is elegant and simple: learn the ones that give you the most trouble.  A word that shows up time after time after time is a better candidate to be briefed than one that appears sporadically.

Here’s an example:  Learning a brief for “record” is much more important than learning a brief for “reformation.”  “Record” is a very popularly used term.  Knowing “reformation” is nice, but it isn’t very popular and the stroke itself is probably a bit hard.  When you learn “record,” you are solving a problem that you face every day.  You can’t say that about “reformation.”

Am I saying that you should never learn a brief for “reformation”?  No, not at all.  You will probably learn it when you learn “reform,” but even “reform” is not as popular as “record.”  I would learn “reform” way down the steno avenue after I learned “record.”  As to “reformation,” I decided long ago that the brief was too hard.  I am much better off using two easy strokes, rather than one hard one.  If “reformation” was more popular, perhaps I would look for an easier brief.

What are the briefs that show up the most?  That’s fairly easy to figure out.  Review your dictations, and write down the problem words.  From that list, pick out a few of the really popular ones, and work on their outlines.

Review your drills.

Make a list of problem words.

Memorize the most popular words on your list.

I have much more detailed methods that we can talk about another day, but if you follow the simple plan that I just outlined, and you will have an effective method of memorizing briefs.

Barb DeWitt

Snake River (for the holidays), Washington

Briefs

Suppose you are doing great on a dictation.  You are writing clean.  You are only a few words behind and feeling comfortable.  You are doing wonderful.

Now suppose the dictator begins to say the phrase “ladies and gentlemen.”

You are caught up.  You haven’t heard the full phrase yet.  You can’t be sure that the phrase will be said.  What do you do?

Choice One is to stop stroking and hope that the phrase will be said.  If it is said, then you have lost nothing but your rhythm.  If it isn’t said, then you have put yourself in a deep hole for no good reason.

Choice Two is to do what you were taught from Day One and stroke the words that are in front of you at that moment.  If the phrase is said, then you have lost nothing by stroking out the words individually.  If the phrase isn’t said, then you have avoided a nasty trap.

Everybody in the stenographic world loves the “ladies and gentlemen” phrase.  It’s wonderful.   It’s an easy way to get credit for three words with one stroke.

“Ladies and gentlemen” is the poster boy for how to misuse phrases.  Everyone knows the phrase, but not everyone knows the briefs for the individual words.  When this phrase is dictated, especially in the beginning of a dictation, too many of us pause and wait to hear the phrase.  That’s bad news all around.

Here are two basic rules that everyone should follow:

1  Learn the briefs for the individual words before you learn the phrases.

2 Never pause or hesitate.  Either write the outline in front of you, or drop the word and write the next one.

Barb DeWitt

Kennewick, Washington