Good weathercasts are all about focus. Unlike news anchors, broadcast meteorologists don’t usually read off of the tele-prompter. Instead they ad-lib, creating their script in their mind as they go, based on the forecast story they’d like to tell. Without focus, the connection between the mind and the mouth break down and you are left with nothing to fall back on except your graphics. Broadcast meteorologists who are great at what they do have a good plan before every show, and are able to confidently ad-lib everything they had prepared on live television.
Too often, distractions steal our focus. Things go wrong. We aren’t feeling ourselves or the situation just gets a little out of control. These are the times when we need to find our focus and land the plane without the landing gear. When you are able to keep your focus, you avoid turning a tough weathercast into a total disaster. Here are a couple of tips that might keep you on track:
Have a game plan. You can’t expect to get up in front of the camera and wing a good weathercast. Always have your important points outlined and have clicked through your show from start to finish before the show starts. You never know who has been messing with your graphics. Creating a plan before every show will allow you to focus better during the broadcast in the case that something unexpected happens.
Tune everything else out for a bit. Broadcast meteorologists have so many buckets to fill these days, its easy to forget about the newscast. Its great to keep people updated on the station website, Facebook and Twitter, but when it comes close to show time, we need to take a break. You’ll still get email and phone calls coming in, but you’ll want your attention to be on your weathercast for that half hour. There will be plenty of time to get back online during sports.
Use a cheat sheet. There are usually lots of things I’d like to mention during the show, but sometimes either never get to them or forget them completely. To help me remember towns, stats and everything else, I use a dry erase board just off camera. I used to use Post-It notes, but they were just too small write on and read. Before the show I’ll write down towns I want to mention, the direction of a storm, or a storm report that just came in. During the show I’ll just turn to the board and read what I have on there as part of my ad-lib. One word of caution: don’t write too much. If I cram it too full, I’ll end up jumbling the whole mess up together. Your mileage may vary.
Expect the unexpected. In the thousands of shows you are likely to have as a broadcast meteorologist, chances are that everything that could possibly go wrong eventually will, at least once. The more things that go wrong, the more you are prepared for the next disaster. When you are just starting out, understand that things will at some point not go the way you planned, and when they do go haywire you need to buckle down and make it through the rest of the show.
Your weathercast is the most important three minutes of your work day. Even when things start to feel like the show can run itself, you’ll want to keep your focus. Your shows will continue to get better and you’ll be chief in New York City in no time (again, your mileage my vary).