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The Fastest Man in the World - Mark Kislingbury

Updated on May 5, 2012

Find Mark in Houston, TX

Meet Mark Kislingbury - The Fastest Court Reporter in the World
Meet Mark Kislingbury - The Fastest Court Reporter in the World | Source

Guinness World Record

This is the way I would describe friend, mentor, all-round-nice-guy and AWESOME Court Reporter, Mark Tod Kislingbury CSR, RMR, CRR. Not only is he a Maestro at the top of his game, but he also set a new Guinness World Record in 2004, at the National Court Reporters Association’s national convention. Mark wrote and transcribed a one-minute, 360 wpm Question and Answer dictation with 97.22% accuracy! Currently, Mark is training to try to set a new world record in 2013. Best of luck, Mark – I have no doubts about you.

In 2005, I began studying Court Reporting at a local community college. It is a fascinating and highly demanding pursuit. To put it in a nutshell, the art of stenography means using a specially designed machine to get down what people say in the fastest possible time using machine shorthand. The technology has evolved greatly and machines today use real-time reporting. As the reporter transcribes the spoken word using a steno machine, the writing is displayed simultaneously on a computer screen, hence the term real-time. This is also how “closed captioning” works on TV.

Awe-Inspiring Action

Studying the Art of Stenography

I had begun my training, using a longer theory of “writing.” The following semester, Del Mar College was the first college to introduce Mark’s theory. I attended one of the seminars that Mark offered to students from all over the United States, which he broadcast via phone. I was a beginner. At the end of the session, Mark invited questions. I had previously visited Mark’s website and posted some questions making reference to the fact that I was from South Africa. Upon hearing my question, Mark astutely picked up on my accent immediately and asked in his very friendly way if I was his South African friend. As I grinned and responded, my fellow students and instructor wondered how Mark could possibly know me. My standing in the group improved immediately and I was truly “chuffed” as we say in South Africa. I must add that I have been totally impressed by all members of the court reporting community - people who do this job are greatly inspirational and wonderful role models and the faculty at Del Mar College was no exception. A student needs to reach minimum speeds of 225 wpm with 98% accuracy to become a Certified Court Reporter (CCR).

Mark’s accomplishments are many. He has been truly blessed with his gifts for real-time display and captioning live. Amongst his many credits between 1995 and 2010 are first place wins in 15 speed and realtime contests at NCRA and Texas competitions. His court reporting experience is mind-blowing. Over a 29-year career, of which 18 years was spent as a freelance court reporter and 15 years as a broadcast captioner, Mark currently presents numerous real-time seminars around the country; he provides realtime transcripts live for the Rush Limbaugh radio program; he has written articles for and been featured in court reporting industry journals; and he is a consultant for testing steno machines and offering input for improvement.

Mark Kislingbury - In-Person Interview


Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting.

Mark’s past experience includes captioning directly to the Internet for IBM’s entire Kasparov vs. Deep Blue chess match (followed live by millions worldwide); he has captioned live events onto the Internet (also worldwide viewing,) for large Internet and computer-related technologies seminars, conventions, and symposia, including speeches of Microsoft's Bill Gates and Apple's Steve Jobs, NASA scientists, and the "father of the Internet," Vint Cerf. Mark has also closed-captioned NFL football, NBA, and NCAA basketball on national television; the 1998 Super Bowl pregame show highlighting Denver Broncos team members; he has captioned hundreds of news broadcasts on numerous television stations in the U.S. and Canada which includes the election returns in Quebec (French names!) on election night. Mark also captioned Sesame Street Live, an ice show, circus and university commencement exercises amongst others.

As if this were not enough, in 2001, Mark became the author of "My System: The Road to Realtime Excellence," published by the NCRA and also authored “The StenoMaster Theory” published in 2004 and founded StenoMaster, Inc. to provide products and services helpful to the court reporting/captioning profession. In 2008, Mark founded Magnum Steno, Inc., to provide other products and services helpful to the profession and he published “Magnum Steno: Write Short - Write Fast!” Mark also unveiled the Magnum Steno Club, a popular online club for daily practice of speed, briefs, and instructional videos. Mark has conducted dozens of seminars on how to excel in court reporting speed and real-time in person, via telephone, and via the Internet which have been attended by thousands of court reporters all over North America. Mark currently mentors numerous court reporting students and his most recent accomplishment is the opening of his own court reporting school in Houston, TX, called the Mark Kislingbury Academy of Court Reporting. 

Mark Kislingbury wins again
Mark Kislingbury wins again

It was just before Christmas...

Mark has every right to be inaccessible to those beneath him, but nothing could be further from the truth. After my husband passed away so suddenly, (read about it in my article “The Internet - a Portal to Other Lands”), I was left in a state of numbing shock. My family advised me to return to my court reporting studies but time was of the essence. Studying to be a stenographer is a time-consuming undertaking and more often than not, it takes a long time and great dedication to master the skills required. I was under pressure to finish studying as soon as possible. I turned to Mark for advice. He was kind enough to invite me to his home to assess my progress. I was awestruck. Not only was I bowled over by the generosity of his invitation, but I was really nervous for him to witness my skill level (or lack thereof.) Mark was also sensitive to the fact that I was in a vulnerable position, both emotionally and financially. He went the extra mile and offered for me to stay with him and his delightful family. This is the first time I have shared this story.

It was just before Christmas. I hired a car and set off with my machine making my way to Mark’s home in Houston. As you may have read in my article, “On the way to Alice, Texas,” I did not know the roads well, but Mark gave excellent directions and eventually I pulled up outside his lovely home and was greeted by his charming wife. Mark’s youngest son was precious and offered me the use of his room and said that he hoped I found his bed comfy. I just wanted to kiss him, but gave him a big smile and a gracious “thank you” instead. Then Mark took me into his studio. His setup was awesome. He had two steno machines and a number of computers and television sets all close at hand for his real-time captioning radio work. Mark invited me to set my machine up nearby his own, and while he was captioning the radio show, he instructed me to start “writing” and get down as much as I could. During breaks, he dictated some material to see how fast I was writing. He concluded that I was writing at about 125 wpm and gave me much advice about improving my speed. Mark was also kind enough to improve the performance of my machine, thereby improving my technique. This experience was absolutely fantastic. Mark has the ability to multitask and pay close attention to everything at the same time. He was never condescending, but helpful, insightful and uplifting all at once. He has great enthusiasm and a wonderful sense of humor and above all, is kind.

Tweak your Machine

Christmas Tree
Christmas Tree | Source

The Christmas Spirit

Mark had invited me to stay for the whole week. I had decided to stay for three days, not wanting to inconvenience Mark and his family. That evening, I was taken to dinner by Mark, his lovely wife and fast-maturing teenage daughter. When we returned home, Mark’s youngest son eagerly showed me his own court reporting machine and explained enthusiastically that he was also going to become a good court reporter. I was so impressed with Mark both as a true professional and as a family man who clearly loved his wife and children and displayed wonderful parenting. I was accepted as a friend and marveled at Mrs. Kislingbury’s interior décor which she had done herself, being interested in all things artistic. The house was decorated in white including all the ornaments on the Christmas tree. She and her daughter had been baking cookies and the house smelled deliciously of cinnamon and vanilla and was filled with the real spirit of Christmas. I was invited to be part of it all and their kindness and hospitality were remarkable. Even Shadow, the black cat, and their cute basset hound/yellow Lab mix, Gromit, warmed to me and were playful: Gromit playing hide-and-go-seek around the island in the kitchen, claws scrabbling on the wooden floor and tongue lolling, and Shadow relaxing on my lap and enjoying me petting her when I sat on the couch in the evening, being entertained by the kids.

The following day I was looking forward to learning more when I started getting a migraine, something that occurred extremely rarely. I also discovered, much to my alarm, a situation which was to become the precursor of a cancer diagnosis. Mrs. Kislingbury came to my assistance and I realized that I had better make my way home much to my extreme disappointment. I endured the drive back home with my head banging relentlessly, and the events that followed led me to believe that I would be joining my husband in the hereafter. That is a story for another day, but I will say that Mark has remained a special friend over the intervening years and recently was ready to come to my aid yet again. BRAVO and thank you, Mark, you have proven yourself to be an all-round marvelous human being and a proud example of American Excellence. I am so blessed to be able to call you my Friend.

What is Steno Writing?


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    • Suelynn profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Adam Fort: Mark is in the Guinness Book of Records. It is writing using a steno machine. I don't have the time to check your link at the moment, but will do so when I have a chance to catch my breath. Thanks for your post.

    • Adam  Fort profile image

      Adam Fort 

      6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      No way. Don't believe the results. Just found a page with top typing speed and it's far far behind.

    • Suelynn profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi DeborahNeyens: Thank you so much for saying. I don't have to tell you then, what special people court reporters are!! I am so glad you have heard about Mark now and will pass on your comments to him. :)

      Hi Midget38: Wow! That's wonderful about your Grand Dad... in order to certify as a court reporter - one has to reach speeds of up to 225 words per minute! It's intense and a challenging skill to master. Stenographers have my utmost respect. I totally agree with you about their skill being underrated - it's a hard job. Thanks so much for your wonderful comments - I greatly appreciate them. :)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      7 years ago from Singapore

      Sue, my grand dad was a stenographer in court too before he retired. I'm not sure what his speed was, though! I can type quickly enough because of him. I've always admired stenographers for their skills in shorthand! It's one that I feel is most under rated. Thanks for sharing! Your hubs are always so unique.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      7 years ago from Iowa

      What a great tribute to your friend. Also, as an attorney who has worked with court reporters for over 20 years, I have to say I never heard of the competition. Best of luck to Mark in breaking his world record!

    • Suelynn profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Debbie: Thanks so much for reading about him - I have been totally blessed. :) Have a wonderful Wednesday. God bless you, too. xxx

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow Sue what a great friend Mark is and a great and kind human being.

      I know you feel blessed just knowing him.

      God Bless you Sue


    • Suelynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thank you so much for letting us all know, Marc Greenberg. I look forward to checking out the movie website when I get back to the States. :)

    • profile image

      Marc Greenberg 

      8 years ago

      As mentioned, Mark will be attempting to break his own speed record in 2013. Check out the movie website for details -

    • Suelynn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Aviannovice

      Good to see you. :)

      I have had a remarkable experience with court reporters and with Mark and I am so extremely grateful for it. Thanks so much for your feedback and your votes - I really appreciate it.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      8 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted up and across the board. Sounds like a wonderful and fantastic beginning to a great friendship and career. This piece answers all questions and the knowledge and entertainnment value are evenly dispersed. Thanks for a great hub.


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