• Don’t Pull A Rick Perry – How To Avoid Brain Freeze On Live Television

    I feel your pain, Rick Perry. I’ve been there. I bet that a lot of us have been there at one point or another. I’m in the middle of a weathercast, pointing to a county, or a town, or a particular highway and the name just doesn’t come to my mind. I know the name; I’ve probably said it a hundred times under similar circumstances. For whatever reason on this particular day, the path from my brain to my mouth has been momentarily blocked. Now I don’t think I’ve ever crashed and burned as bad as Rick Perry did the other night, I can certainly sympathize and know what it feels like to be in that situation.

    You never know when something like this might creep up on you but there are things you can do before, during and after a brain freeze to make the most out of a bad situation.

    Before the freeze: The key to recovering from brain freeze is to avoid one in the first place. The best way to do that is to have a sound knowledge in the topic that you are talking about, and the confidence to discuss that topic in a high-pressure situation. If you are missing either one, you’ll likely run into trouble eventually. It’s important to have a comprehensive background in the material, which usually takes some time to develop. You’ll never get to mention everything you know, but having that deep catalog to fall back on and being able to recall it easily, can get you out of a tight spot. Remember don’t memorize; internalize. Continue reading

  • The One Skill Future Broadcast Meteorologists Should Be Developing Right Now

    If you talk to a broadcast meteorologist, they’ll probably tell you that they were interested in weather at a very early age. It grabs us, and we’re hooked for life. In high school, we take a special interest in earth science, mathematics and computer science. What you don’t see as much is a pursuit in skills on the broadcasting side. Maybe students don’t know right away that they want to work in television, perhaps they don’t realize the opportunities they have to build those skills, or maybe its just scary.

    It was scary for me. Not only did I wait till college to get into broadcasting, I waited till senior year. By then, there just wasn’t enough time to get myself to a level of comfort that had me ready for a local television job. I went back to college and picked up a second degree in broadcasting, and even after that nerves still got the best of me for the first few months of my first broadcast meteorology job.

    I know I’m not alone. I see students all the time that battle with nerves, first in the classroom, and then on live campus television. Its something that can take a while to stamp out, and leads to a whole host of other problems. You can work on talking slower, or stop fidgeting with your hands, or trying to smile more, but it likely all stems from a lack of being comfortable and confident. It’s also a challenge to teach out of a student because it’s usually something that just takes time. Just like jumping in a pool of cold water, it just takes time to get used to, and there is not a lot else you can do to speed up the process.

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  • Beating The Butterflies – Dealing With Anxiety At The Chroma-Key Wall

    Most people have a fear of speaking in public. Throw in a big green wall, a bunch of lights and some live television, and its understandable that broadcast meteorologists often deal with nerves when starting out. Its easy to come to terms quickly that this anxiety stems from an irrational fear. We aren’t going to die up there. No large animal is going to come out from the control room and eat us, but the nerves can still be hard to shake, and it is usually the biggest hurdle to get over when trying to become your best on camera. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to be informative and personable.

    The Long Term Fix – There is no magic bullet to reducing anxiety on camera. The ultimate cure is lots and lots of work on camera over time. With each show you get under your belt, you get a little more comfortable on camera. Anything new can be scary. The less new it becomes, the less scary it will be. The reason why you go to a good broadcasting program is to get experience and work these nerves out now, before you head out into the real world. You should be starting the process in the privacy of the classroom and once you are a little more comfortable, graduate to live campus weathercasts. There are things you can do  before your show to set yourself up for success during your next weathercast.

    1. Plan your show. Prepare what you want to cover ahead of time, but instead of trying to memorize, internalize instead. The difference is that instead of learning exact sentences, you are learning the concepts those sentences are based around. The more you know, the easier it will be for those words to make the trip from your brain to your mouth, and you’ll be able to think about other things at the same time.
    2. Practice ahead of time. You should know the order of your graphics, and how you plan to bridge from graphic to graphic. Click through the order once or twice before the start of the show, so when you see those graphics on-air, you are already pretty comfortable with what you you want to say.

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  • I’m Kind Of A Big Deal – Tips For Getting Used To Being In The Public Eye

    It starts off simple enough. You are in the food court on your lunch break in a shirt and tie, waiting for you taco order to come up. Someone notices you as the local weatherguy and starts a conversation. Its kind of cool. Maybe you are out at a bar on Friday night and someone buys you a round because they think you do a great job. Nice. A week later you’ve got a guy yelling at you in the frozen food aisle at the grocery store because it rained on his daughter’s wedding, and its all your fault. Welcome to the world of broadcast meteorology. You are a local celebrity.

    Being recognized in public is a blessing and a curse, and all comes with the territory. You have to be aware that you are always in the public eye. Even in the privacy of your own home, you still have to behave. You can’t wake up in a tub with a dead guy and expect to go to work the next day. Things like that are not going to fly, even if you have a perfectly good explanation. Your image reflects on your station’s image, and its very important to them that you are setting a good example. It’s all part of the game you’ll need to learn if you want to have any success in broadcasting.

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