As professionals, we attend conferences to build up our network and community, but sometimes that can be more daunting than rewarding. You might have the goal of trying to talk to one new person over a conference weekend, and you hype yourself up to do just that, only to end up hiding in the corner with your drink observing the room because the whole idea of approaching someone new just seems bigger than you.
We’ve all been there. I’m still working on my approach.
I recently attended my first Fearless Stenographers Conference in Atlanta, the first conference I’ve attended since Covid, and I have to say, it was very impressive.
Founded by Shaunise Day, this was her third annual Fearless conference, and her hard work did not go unnoticed by those of us in attendance. Shaunise is the embodiment of “fearless,” and after a weekend of observation, here are my top three reasons why stenographers – whether you’re an aspiring student, new reporter, or veteran reporter – need to attend this conference:
1) Outstanding presentations/presenters.
There were your learning seminars, which ranged from learning new briefs and phrases to a look into the captioning world to learning what a certified voice writer actually does. All were very insightful and fun and put on well by the presenters.
Then there were a couple of items on the agenda that made me personally sit up and pay attention: showing up for yourself and deconstructing old industry beliefs. You know, the things we don’t really talk about, like self-care and boundaries and burnout and turning down work when you’re overloaded and making rest a priority (who needs sleep anyway) and not being afraid to ask for help or advice… I could go on and on. But here are three reminders I took away for myself:
- Don’t be ashamed to charge for your services
- Communicate your needs
- Having boundaries is good, healthy, and serves everyone, including the client
Can I get an amen? Personally, I live for this kind of real-talk.
If you’re all about a fresh perspective on industry standards, then this conference is for you.
Stenographers, do you love your job? I mean like really, really love your job? Like, thanking your lucky stars that you found this profession and all of the opportunity it’s brought to you?
Everyone at Fearless loved their jobs and loved the industry, and it didn’t matter what part of the industry they were in: freelance, official, captioner, CART, voice writer… they all loved it, and their passion for their careers and this industry was for sure palpable throughout the weekend.
However, I have to say, authenticity is contagious. Shaunise, at the helm of this conference, showed up as her authentic self all weekend and her love for stenographers and this industry just radiated off of her. When leaders show up as their authentic selves, people usually gravitate towards that, and that’s exactly what happened during this conference. What a breath of fresh air to observe!
If you’re looking for authenticity, then this conference is for you.
We all need community, and community is usually formed from shared values. A brief excerpt from the Fearless conference mission statement:
“We are coming together to unite, celebrate, empower, educate, and advocate for the court reporting and captioning profession. Together, we are stronger. The goal of this conference is to empower you to be the best court reporter that you can be.”
Stenographers, you know you are something special and that you have a very unique skill not many can obtain. This conference celebrates that, celebrates you, and those who were in attendance celebrated each other, their accomplishments, talked of how they call each other for support when trying to obtain their next certification, cried for each other, loved each other. I teared up over the weekend many times just watching and listening to these stories.
This was a great reminder that stenographers are not just people who sit behind machines, but humans who need this kind of community to keep going. This profession needs this. Students in court reporting school and new professionals need to see this and be a part of this, and this conference welcomes that.
If you’re looking for your community, then this conference is for you.
This conference is a fresh perspective to an industry that’s been around a long time, and it brings everyone to the table. I plan to return to Fearless next year, and I hope that you’ll join me.