Get Feedback While You Can Still Do Something With It

I welcome broadcast meteorologists starting out to send me their on-air work for feedback. I see a lot of good stuff, and plenty more that could use a little help, but that’s what we’re here for. What surprises me the most is when I get demo feedback requests. It’s usually about two or three months after graduation. A met may have left college with what they thought was a top-notch demo, only to be shocked ten weeks later when they have heard nothing back from the jobs they applied for.

At that point, a met is pretty limited to what they can do. I’m happy to recommend some ideas for a re-edit of their existing content, but any big changes will likely never be able to get fixed. It could be something as minor as a haircut, or the way you continuously move your arm a certain way, but what you leave college with is all you have to find that first job, which is often the hardest to land.

The whole point of getting feedback is to get better. The time to get that feedback is in your junior and senior years of college when you still have time in front of the campus chroma-key wall or TV station internship. Once you walk off that graduation stage, you’ll quickly find your resources become limited. If you find out a month later that you’re talking too fast, or that you need to buy a suit that fits, there isn’t a lot you can do about it. Had you gotten that feedback a year ago, it becomes a lot easier to make those changes or work on those skills.

Ask for feedback while you still have the opportunity to make improvements to your weather broadcasts. Here are a few ideas to make the most of your feedback:

Cast a wide net. The more feedback you get early in the process, the more likely you are to discuss the big things you could be doing to get better. Ask professors, teachers from high school, neighbors you trust and local mets you may have interned with or who work in your local market. I’m always willing to take a few minutes to look at a demo. Just send me an email. The things that one person might pick up on might be completely different from someone else. Ideally, they’ll all converge on a common theme, and then you’ll know exactly what might be holding you back.

sad kidDon’t take it personally. If you want to become a broadcast meteorologist, you need to have a thick skin. This is especially tough for mets who are just getting started and have never been told by a viewer, point-blank, that they ought to consider a different line of work. It will come from someone, someday. That’s just what happens when you are in the public eye. You’ll eventually be able to separate the feedback that is out there to help you, and the comments that are there just to make the other person feel better about themselves. The sting will always be there on some level, but you’ll improve on your ability to turn the volume down.

“Great” doesn’t help you get better. Many times you’ll get feedback from people who don’t want to hurt your feelings. In the end, this hurts you more because they’re making you feel like you’re better than you are. This prevents you from making the changes you really need to make right now. If the only feedback you get from someone is “You’re doing great.”, ask them for one thing you could work on. Ask them to be specific and not hold back. You’ll only get better when you know what you need to work on first.

Focus on one thing at a time. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and discouraged. A well-meaning person can pile on so much feedback that it might make you feel buried. Once you’ve gotten some feedback, pick out one thing to work on. It might be the most common observation you’ve gotten from asking several people, or it might be the easiest thing to knock out on the list. The point is that trying to fix five things at once is a lot harder than trying to tackle just one. If you know you need a haircut, go ahead and take care of it, then focus on the next thing on your list.

Jim Cantore watches a weathercast with a LSC student. Photo by David Ballou.

Jim Cantore watches a weathercast with a LSC student. Photo by David Ballou.

This coming weekend, Lyndon State alum Jim Cantore will be on campus to give a performance workshop for our senior broadcast meteorologists. Not only is it excellent feedback from someone who has seen it all, but it also comes at the right time in their development. They’ve practiced on a choma-key wall for over a year now, and have done live, half-hour newscasts since the start of the semester. They’re good enough to know how to give a decent weathercast, and Jim helps them now take it to the next level. They’ll still have the next several months to apply what they’ve learned to improve their demos before May.

Trust me, I was the guy who graduated thinking he had it all figured out. It turns out I still needed a lot of work. I had to go back to school for another three semesters before I was even close to entry-level material. Don’t make the same mistake. Need an honest, supportive opinion on some wall-work? Shoot me an email at broadcastmet@gmail.com.

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