Most meteorologists start out the same way. We get hooked into weather as a kid and it never lets go. We become drawn to the power of nature and grow up watching the evening local weather forecast. We think about how great it would be if we were that broadcast meteorologist and eventually head to college in pursuit of a degree. Introverts quickly find out that the meteorology may comes easier than the broadcasting. There is a big difference between learning to be a meteorologist and learning to be a broadcast meteorologist.
That is where things become tricky for introverted students. Introverts are characterized as being someone who reflects inward rather than outward. External stimuli such as giving speeches or attending social engagements can generate high levels of anxiety for them. The act of getting up the guts to get in front of the camera, in front of a live TV audience, can be daunting for an introvert. In the competitive college environment, its often the gregarious, boisterous extroverts who flock to campus television, muscling out the more reserved introverts for limited air time. With the right start and support, introverts have just as much potential, and can be just as effective as the ‘life of the party’ extroverts.
In-class practice is important. How you start is important. For an extrovert who may have already had years in talent shows, theater or debate, or getting in front of the camera might be no big deal, but for an introvert it can be a very stressful experience. They can be more sensitive to what is going on, or what is perceived to be going on, which can make things hard to focus. It is here when they can also learn that it’s okay to fail and not take themselves so seriously. Starting our in the safety of a classroom takes the pressure and distractions off, and allows students to develop confidence before they are thrown into the chaos of a live studio newscast.
Get positive feedback, both internally and externally. Introverts may have the passion to push forward, but they need a supportive environment to thrive. Getting good feedback from a mentor or instructor can help clear up some early problems right away. Supportive, encouraging advice will lead to accelerated improvement which will increase confidence. As you get better, it is essential that you get used to watching your own shows. Someone could give you all sorts of useful feedback, but unless you see it yourself, you’ll never truly get the message. The way it feels while you are doing it is very different than the way it looks played back later. Separate your emotion from the performance, and be objective as you watch it. It’s a good habit to get into early.
Strive for progress, not perfection. Introverts care a lot about their progress. Feedback might be harder to take, but they still have that internal dialog that forces them to be better. They might be hard on themselves after a bad show, and ignore some of the good things that went well. You don’t want to compare yourself to other broadcast meteorologists in your class but instead focus on the progress you personally have made. Take time to look back at past shows from early on, and take credit for the success so far.
Stay passionate and genuine. The best person you can be on camera is yourself. Introverts can be very personable and sincere as broadcasters, but early on they may sacrifice some of that in exchange for confidence. Sometimes we do have to psyche ourselves up for a good show, but that energy push is still coming from within. The ‘fake it to make it’ strategy is only to help build some initial confidence. Keep the gap between who you are, and who people see on camera as tight as possible. The more shows you get, the more improvement you’ll see.
I should mention that I’m an introvert, and have been on the air now for over a decade. I knew I wanted to get into broadcast meteorology when I was in college, but hesitated until senior year before getting involved with the campus station. My first time in front of a chroma-key wall was during a live campus newscast and as you might expect, it didn’t go well. In the three semesters I spent trying to teach myself broadcast meteorology there by trial and error, I didn’t get the skills I needed to land my first job. A second bachelor’s degree in mass communication a year later changed that. While the ‘trial by fire’ method might work fine for many extroverted mets, it wasn’t very beneficial for me. Now that I’m an adjunct professor at Lyndon State College, I try to leave no broadcast met behind.
So can introverted mets become successful broadcasters? Absolutely. I know many self-described introverted broadcast meteorologists and I’m willing to bet that are a lot more out there. They can be out in front when it’s something they love to do and feel comfortable doing it. Introverts do not need to hold themselves back, they just need to find the environment that’s right for them to get started. It can make all the difference.
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