on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)

By Krista Burgeson, CSR, RPR, RMR, CRR, NCRA Realtime Systems Administrator; XHTML by G.D. Warner

The Red Dot Focus Secret

One Reporter's Cure for Attention Loss During a Speed Test


Meet court reporter Krista Burgeson.

Cover of the February 2011 JCR

That's Krista in the middle on the cover of the February 2011 JCR

During a discussion on Facebook about speed tests and losing focus, Krista Burgeson mentioned something she called "The Red Dot Focus Secret." Intrigued, I had to know more ...!

Krista sent me the article herein, and I asked her if I could post it here on ol' Cheap and Sleazy, and she agreed -- after first making sure that Cheap and Sleazy wasn't quite like the name implies! :o)

As you can probably guess from the fact that you're reading this, she was not repulsed by Cheap and Sleazy, and so here, for your edification and delight, is Krista's article, "The Red Dot Focus Secret."


Hey Glen --

I guess I shouldn't have brought it up if I wasn't prepared to fully explain it, but now I think maybe explaining it in one place would be better than trying to talk to everyone individually. It is kind of long and involved.

This really isn't a "secret," it is just something that I made up when I was in school, kind of stuck in my 140/160 area, and once I got the hang of it, I literally flew through school -- I mean it. And then I used it for my state CSR, the RPR, the RMR, and the CRR. That's how good it worked for me. Whether it was all in my mind, I will never know. But if this even helps one student, it is worth sharing.

Here goes ....

When a test begins I make sure I am seated comfortably, with my arms and hands in their proper position, and legs in a grounded fashion. That is how I will stay during the entirety of the test. This is all about focus -- that is why I stay put, no moving.

Then once my fingers are on the keys, right before the test begins, I look out past my machine to the floor in front of me -- either underneath a chair that is directly in front of me or just on the floor in front of my machine. I find a spot. And I stare at it. And then that is my "red dot focus spot." I simply imagine a red dot right there. Stare at it. The purpose in my mind of the red dot was that when I was looking at it, focused on it, the test was mine. I had total control. I was in control. I owned it.

So the test begins and I am staring at my dot. I am focused and I am writing perfectly. After I am comfortable writing for a bit I will literally raise my focus, raise my eyesight, lift my eyes ever so slightly above the dot, the dot is still there, but since I am getting the dictation, I can raise up a bit. I don't NEED it as badly. I am getting it.

After a while at that level, I then raise my eyes up again. You can see where I am going with this. The red dot becomes your security blanket. Now as many times as you can slowly raise your eyes up during a test, sometimes to the point where you are looking straight ahead, you can also lower your eyes. And that is where the help comes in.

That, I believe, is the strength of the dot.

So you have raised your eyes, say, three or four times. You are a couple minutes into the test, and all of a sudden, you freeze, or you misstroke, or you didn't hear something. No need to panic. You simply lower your eyes one level -- not all the way back to the floor to the dot, not yet -- just one level until you regain control. In some instances you may need to go back to the floor, but usually just having the dot on the floor where you know it is there is enough to make you calm and gain control. You then start raising your eyes again slowly from the dot.

By the time these tests were over, I was usually looking out, straight ahead, smiling. I got it. I really worked. Damn!

Now, I would suggest if people cannot visualize this red dot that they actually make one. Go ahead and cut one out of construction paper! Use part of an article in a magazine that has red on it. Use a red Sharpie on a piece of white paper and make one. Cut out a nice red circle and bring it with you to where you are testing. It doesn't have to be big. Place it in "the spot." Know that when you look at it, you are in control.

Red Dot

Red Dot

This may sound silly to some, but I say whatever works. And this sure worked for me. Once I starting using my "red dot," I flew through school, all the certifications, and am a very happy and successful court reporter today .... 24 years later.

(Oh, and every once in a while, say an expert is on the stand in a big case at Federal Court, there is media in the gallery, all the jury is listening to every word, the Judge and counsel are following along with my realtime on their screens, and I start to maybe lose it just a bit -- sure, I look down at that floor, see that red dot, and BAM, I am back in the game. I've got it! No problem.)

So that is my Red Dot Focus Secret ....

Thanks for listening!

Krista Burgeson


I was born and raised in the Chicago area and would never leave. I received my Associate's Degree while completing my court reporting program as a full-time student. I went into freelance reporting upon graduation in 1986 and worked for 17 years at Getty & Associates in downtown Chicago, which was a family business, doing primarily med/mal and products liability depositions. I then worked as an Official for the State of Illinois in Criminal Court from 2003 to 2006. And I have now been an Official for the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, since 2006 and have no plans of leaving! I am 46 years old, happily married to a retired Deputy Sheriff, and have 2 teenage sons.