David Roberts: Rise of the introverts ~ why a socially-distanced AWARD School might produce more quietly talented creatives

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David Roberts: Rise of the introverts ~ why a socially-distanced AWARD School might produce more quietly talented creatives

By David Roberts, BMF creative director and AWARD School tutor


This year’s AWARD School students have missed out on a lot. The adrenaline of standing up and pitching ideas in an agency. The buzz of a packed lecture theatre. Rowdy pub sessions that follow both.

And for some students, it’s been bliss.

While the extroverted among them have been depleted by the lack of direct social contact during COVID-19, the introverted ones have been happily cocooned at home. Without all the energy-sapping human interaction, they’ve had more time to do what they do best. Dream up ideas in peace.

Come tute night, the advantages of the extrovert — much like Zoom video — were lagging. There was no face-to-face charm or exuberant in-person presentation skills to dazzle tutors. Without these unconscious biases at play, only one thing stood out. Great ideas. Quietly there for all to see.

Sure, presenting via Google Slides is still scary. But with a screen between you and a bunch of strangers, plus the added security of dogs on laps and uggies on feet, it’s that little bit less scary.

As a result, I think we saw ideas from introverted students they would have been too shy to present in other years. Before they could softly mumble “um….this is probably really bad” their concepts were flashed up on screen. They didn’t need to stand up and spruik their work, because it was bold enough to do all the talking.

Pre-pandemic AWARD School was different. It may have unintentionally favoured the socially outgoing, much like the open-plan agencies that its grads walk into. Environments that are architecturally-designed so loud chatterboxes can shatter the concentration of everyone around them. I should know, I’m one of them. I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone on my pod except Rob — who has a voice like a trombone.

Coronavirus has robbed lecturers, tutors and students of the usual AWARD School experience. The silver lining? A chance for the introverts to shine.

Best of luck to the entire 2020 class on graduation night. And for the quietly brilliant ones, your time may have come.

The Wall (#workonthewall2020) will go live nationally on Facebook (facebook.com/awardschool) from approximately 4pm AEST tonight, Wednesday 29 July, with the official AWARD School Virtual Graduation streamed on Facebook Live, starting at 6.00pm AEST.