Tennessee State Association Annual Convention presents "Steno in the City" - May 2021

Tennessee State Association Annual Convention presents “Steno in the City” Networking Mixer

As the world is starting to open up with in-person gatherings, I was honored back in May to be the guest speaker at the annual convention of the Tennessee Court Reporters Association in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  “Steno in the City” also hosted the annual networking mixer for the event.  The gathering, composed of an intimate group of professional stenographic reporters, was a huge success that presented me with the opportunity to delve into key topics impacting our industry as well as to empower, uplift, encourage, and unite convention attendees.

Among the topics covered was unity in terms of setting aside our differences in order to work together for the greater good of the stenographic reporting community.  This included encouraging state and national membership, attracting young people to the profession, forging profitable partnerships, joining forces with other steno advocates and allies, and a host of other subjects.

As part of my presentation, I probed into the current work practices of convention attendees and asked, “Are you providing real time all the time and looking for ways to enhance your steno skills?”  If not, I shared that there are services and colleagues who are ready, willing, and able to help.  After asking, “Are you ready to promote our profession but feel that you don’t have the time?” I suggested that the ability to report remotely gave us a rare opportunity to up our game and promote our profession on a wider scale.  In fact, the tools are right at our fingertips.  No longer must we wait for Court Reporting and Captioning Week or for our state association to host a career fair.  Despite the pandemic, we can roll up our sleeves and get involved, using the power of technology to greatest advantage in order to promote our profession.  Feel free to  tab on over to “The Steno Xperience” for more tips and ideas.  

Thank you, members of the TCRA, for the opportunity to participate at your annual convention.  I hope mine was an inspiring message that you will carry from this point into the future as you explore ways to have an even greater impact on our noble profession.

Networking Mixer aka “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere”

TCRA graciously allowed “Steno in the City” to host their annual mixer.  When we had asked April Benson, vice president of TRCA, if she would be open to the idea of “Steno in the City” infusing some new and novel elements into the mix in order to give the networking event a bit of a makeover, she enthusiastically agreed.  Though April had no idea of what was to come, she wholeheartedly trusted our vision and gave us free rein to allow the creativity to flow.  I am happy to report that the feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive.  April, the board, and the event participants who were the beneficiaries of our hard work and planning were thrilled with the results, and the mixer was a complete success. 

The “Steno in the City” Vision

In keeping with the “Steno Stars” theme, the event featured a stunning backdrop and red carpet that allowed our stellar stenographers to feel like the stars that they truly are. 

After having their pictures snapped on the red carpet, each star shared why they loved the court reporting and captioning profession.  An eye-popping “Steno in the City” monogram enhanced the wow factor of the setup.  The statuesque “STENO” messaging ablaze in LED lights was a bold, dramatic focal point that served as an apt reminder to all that we are steno strong, we are still standing, and we are here to stay. 

Following the red carpet presentations and during the networking mixer, conference attendees participated in a fun game designed to break the ice and allow our reporters to engage with one another.

While attendees dined on appetizers and delectable drinks provided by TRCA, the “Steno in the City” deejay took over and the group soon lit up the dance floor, which was festooned in an array of dazzling purple and blue lights and enhanced the festive mood of the celebrants.

Photo Booth Fun

 “Steno in the City” provided a high-tech photo booth for the event, which was a resounding success.  The convention attendees had a blast taking turns standing on the platform and getting down with groovy hand gestures and dance moves.  While our steno stars interacted in the booth, the software translated their moves into entertaining boomerang photos and slow motion videos that were a hit with the attendees.  Thus you can expect to see this fun, interactive photo booth at future “Steno in the City” events.

Our goal was to ensure that the TCRA event was infused with an air of energy and excitement and that participants had a wonderful time.  And to memorialize the festivities for our steno community to revisit and enjoy, “Steno in the City” hired a professional photographer to capture the many memorable moments that were created over the course of the event. 

The Importance of Membership Value

Operating in this fast-paced and mercurial environment has driven home the importance of modifying our approach to advancing our profession in order to keep up with the times.  Toward this end, we firmly believe that our state associations across the nation play a pivotal role and should consider membership value as Priority Number 1.  When members feel that the leadership of their state association has their best interest at heart and is invested in their professional advancement and success, in return those members will gladly offer their support, financially and otherwise.  They will also look forward to attending webinars and conventions to be enriched and edified, not merely to satisfy the CEU requirement.  Thus perceived membership value is both real and instrumental to the future of our industry. 

Honoring our Steno Legends

When the “Steno in the City” Facebook group went live last February, we asked members to post their years of service and location.  In response, we received more than 300 comments, which we then used to compile a master list that included the names of reporters with 40-plus years of service.

During the event, we recognized the remarkable achievements of our steno legends by bestowing upon them the Steno Honors Award.  In addition, award recipients will receive service pins at a later date.  Part of our mission is to honor our veteran reporters who have laid the foundation and paved the way for us who follow in their footsteps.  We promise to continue to carry the torch and make them proud.

Serving the profession with 52 years of steno excellence and still going strong at 72 years young, Ms. Brenda Countz graced us by singing three of her beautiful tracks.  As she performed near the ginormous lit-up “STENO” display amidst the swirls of mist emitted by the fog machine, it appropriately appeared as though Brenda were performing on a cloud.  After enjoying her performance, the members once again took to the dance floor to kick up their heels and celebrate with their colleagues, a fitting end to a memorable weekend.  Our vision had come to life, our mission to unify and celebrate our success was achieved, and a fabulous time was enjoyed by all.

A Debt of Gratitude

A heartfelt thank you goes out to the Tennessee Court Reporters Association for allowing “Steno in the City” to host their mixer and to invite its founder, Shaunise Day, as a guest speaker in training.  We appreciate you immensely.  We would also like to thank Shacara Mapp, Lamarra George, Shelly Duhon, Rachel Artis along with her amazing mother, and Chris DeGrazio for assisting with tasks in the final hours that were essential to the success of the TCRA event.  We are most thankful for your contributions.

One Team.  One Goal.  STENO.