Yesterday, while I was reorganizing my storage loft, I was catching up on listening to some podcasts. I realized something: One advantage of podcasting is that sometimes complex topics become more comprehensible and resonant when explained in a human voice, rather than by text.
One of the oft-cited disadvantages of podcasts is that you can’t really “skim” them that is, it generally takes 30 minutes of your precious time to listen to a 30-minute podcast. And if you stop listening early, you may miss great stuff that came later in the show. Many people find this frustrating. Sometimes I find it frustrating, too.
However, the human voice can be incredibly powerful and effective and sometimes this can offset the inconvenience of the time that listening requires. For me, this happens often enough that I keep finding podcasting a compelling medium, even though many individual shows or episodes don’t offer me much value. It’s the pearls that make it worthwhile.
Here are two such pearls I found yesterday…
First, I was listening to episode 35 of The Watt, a blog and podcast on wide-ranging energy topics by Ben Kenney. In that show, he offered a lengthy but engaging discussion of why we should think carefully about, and discuss and address, the world’s energy situation. It’s basically an introduction to the overall theme of his show and blog.
Here’s the thing: I’m very familiar with energy issues, both from my journalistic and editorial work, and from my own interests. None of what he said was news to me. However, by listening to Kenney talk through how some important points are interconnected, and the significance of those interconnections, I “got ” this topic at a new level. And I really think it’s because I was listening to him talk and maybe even because his discussion was informal and included a fair amount of his personal perspective as well as facts. All of that conveyed to me a new level of context and urgency for matters I’ve largely taken for granted.
Maybe that experience is somewhat unique to me, since I happen to be mainly an auditory learner. Which brings me to the second pearl offered up by my MP3 player yesterday.
After The Watt, I listened to show #26 of Diary of a Shameless Self-Promoter, by Heidi Miller. (Full disclosure: She’s a client of mine.) This episode was peculiarly timely for me, since in it Miller interviewed Eve Abbott, “Organizer Extraordinaire.” Bear in mind I was still organizing my storage loft while this show came on.
The content of this show resonated for me much better, I think, because I was listening to an animated discussion between two highly competent and intelligent women. I got much more from than than if I’d read an article (even a Q&A interview) covering the same points.
Therefore, I was delighted (but not too surprised) when I took the free online learning style assessment mentioned in the show and found that I’m primarily an auditory learner. It makes sense. I do read a lot, of course but somehow I always seem to “get” complex topics better when I hear people discuss them. Especially when that discussion is fairly informal or conversational. Deadpan lectures put me to sleep.
Anyway, I just wanted to congratulate Miller and Kenney on these effective shows.
Also, I’d like to ask people to consider that although not everyone enjoys listening to podcasts, those of us who are primarily auditory learners might be getting the most benefit from this new medium. Consider that your target audience is comprised of individuals who represent a mix of learning styles. Doing even an occasional podcast might help you establish a connection with the part of your audience for whom sound resonates more than text. And we count, too.