Some reporters use lots and lots of briefs. Some reporters use hardly any briefs at all. While there’ll always be a healthy competition or discussion between the two about whose method is best, both are important.
On the one hand, you have the reporters who type out every syllable. They’ll stroke out every part of a word like “shareholder” and swear by it forever. It can be laborious, but it’s ultra effective in being able to read another reporter’s work.
On the other hand you have the briefers. I’d consider myself in this school. These are reporters who hear the same thing time after time, day after day, question after question, and finally decide it’s going to become one stroke.
The bottom line is everyone has to do what they’re comfortable with, but here is a bit of sound advice for all camps, and people looking to switch camps. If you are stroking everything out, you have to have faster fingering, and since we all have some theoretical limited speed at which our fingers can physically move, you have a ceiling. Consider getting those multistroke words to be one stroke.
If you are briefing everything, consider that if you are grouping very large chunks of words, you will be losing speed. For example, my current work is very formulaic. Many an arraignment starts off “240.30, 250.20.” For me, this inevitably became TWAOEFT. Often that is followed up by some kind of statement like “People are ready.” I don’t brief that. Some do. “People have no offer.” I don’t brief that. Some do. If you have “240.30, 250.20, people are ready, no offer” in three strokes, your stenographic genius is appreciable, but if you do that with everything, your speed will decrease in matters you have not briefed.
So my advice to a newbie? Brief if you’re comfortable. Brief the things you hear every day because that’s what makes sense. Just be very careful, because if you’re too reliant on briefing, you can end up in a stroke or choke moment, and choking in the middle of trial is painful.