The day has finally arrived: you’re going into a deposition room to record your very first official transcript. You haven’t been this nervous since you took your certification exam—and while you passed, you know you made some mistakes that you can’t afford to make now.

You know you have the skills, but your confidence is flagging—and you need both to do your job well. Here are a few ways court reporters can overcome their anxiety as they prepare to record their first depositions:

  • Prepare for the worst. Pack up your briefcase with all of your notes and documents the night before, just in case your alarm doesn’t go off or you’re running late in the morning.
  • Go to bed. The best way to keep your mind in the game is to get a good night’s sleep the night before the deposition. It may take you a while to fall asleep, so plan to be in bed at least an hour earlier than usual.
  • Eat breakfast. Stress can often make people nauseated, encouraging them to skip meals. Unfortunately, this will only lead to a blood sugar crash later. Eat something light and healthy, such as oatmeal, nuts, or fruit.
  • Beware of coffee. If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, limit your caffeine to one cup in the morning. You only need to be awake, not jittery, and it’s easy to drink too much when you’re nervous.
  • Be early. It’s better to be early than on time. If you show up before anyone else has arrived, make sure you confirm that you are in the right place before setting up.
  • Remember Plan B. Instead of worrying “what if” an error occurs, assume that it will—and make a plan for how you will recover. You don’t have the option of melting down or running from the room if you make a mistake, so have a clear vision of your response in your head.

Only Practice Makes Perfect Court Reporters!

Throughout your career, you will face challenges to your court reporting skills. The best way to combat fear is to rely on your competence, gaining experience with each new job. Find ways to fit in daily practice sessions, such as getting up early or going out to a coffee shop after you drop the kids off at school. Remember: all the mistakes you make are just as much a part of your experience as the quality work you provide.

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