New to the world of podcasts? Me too! If you’ve been following my Instagram Stories (come find me here), you’ll have seen that within the past few weeks, I’ve decided to delve into the world of podcasts, much to the smug amusement of my other half who has been a podcast fan for many years and is used to me chiding him for walking around the house with headphones stuck in his ears, thereby missing the precious first 5 minutes of what, unbeknownst to me, was a one-way conversation. What I didn’t realise was that he was totally on to something. I’m so glad I made it one of my goals for this month to start looking at the options and selecting a few to listen to. My only regret is not having done so sooner, and now, as someone who is obsessed with constantly learning, I feel like I’ve been missing out on a wealth of information all these years. If you’re among the large cross section of people not listening to podcasts, and have been somewhat intrepid about doing so, you need to keep reading.
Podcasts have been around for quite a while now, and with what I’ve learned about them so far, it’s little wonder why they’ve become hugely popular in the past 3 years. Today I’m going to highlight some of the many benefits of podcasts, why they’re an economical way to invest in yourself and why they belong in your arsenal of personal growth tools.
They fire up your imagination and improve cognition
Podcasts promote exercising your ‘mind’s eye’ in using mental imagery to imagine sceneries, plots, people described. A study done by one communications professor shows how listeners’ imagination are ignited and how highly emotionally involved they become with what they are hearing. It can even be argued that listening to podcasts improves cognitive function, as your brain is forced to process information and produce the meaning of it faster than if you were reading, as it keeps pace with the narration.
Content becomes multi-dimensional
When you listen to your favourite blogger or writer, not only are you getting the great information you’ve grown to love, the addition of their voice to the mix adds a deeper level of connectivity between you, the listener, and him/her, the blogger/author. Podcasts are a much more intimate way to receive information than other forms.
The spoken word is powerful
The human voice conveys emotions and nuances which are more difficult to express in writing. Voices can be soothing, calming or/ invigorating. The components of human voice, including the tone and inflection, helps to clarify the meaning of what is said and minimises the chance of misinterpretation. For instance, whilst it may be difficult to pick up if an author is joking or sarcastic by reading his/her work, in speaking, you would most likely be able to discern the intention.
Full of personality
Podcasts are not so neatly packaged and clinical – feeling. Written content is great, but many times feel over-sterilized after undergoing multiple iterations and edits. Many podcasts are recorded live, which means, they make mistakes on air- so refreshingly, imperfectly human. After a few episodes, you really feel you get to know the podcaster, and in no time, he/she will be like a friend.
Provide different perspectives
Many podcasts involve guests, some of whom are sector leaders and experts, allowing you to tap into their wisdom. Some podcasters’ content are primarily, or even exclusively, accessed through their podcast, therefore if you’re relying on written word as your sole medium of information, you’re missing out.
Download an app from iTunes or Google Play on your mobile and you’re off! Whilst the podcasts are free, apps are either free of cost a nominal amount. The app I’m currently using is Podcast Addict, whilst my hubby prefers Pocket Casts, which is retailing in Google Play at the time of writing for £2.99. Once you’ve got your app installed, podcasts are accessible without charge. Once you’ve subscribed to a podcast, new episodes are automatically available for you to listen to at your convenience. On demand and free – what could be better?
Drivers of Creativity
Especially if you’re working in a creativity-driven sector, you’re constantly producing content and giving of your own knowledge/opinions, need to be refueled yourself, podcasts replete with new ideas. For instance, I’m currently binge-listening to The Market Beautifully Podcast - Haley’s enthusiasm and positivity is so contagious I feel instantly energised and like I could really just go out and conquer the world!
Expand your consciousness
As exposed and enlightened as you may be, there are always things that will be completely off your radar, and therefore that you have little or no, knowledge about. Mainstream media can to an extent tell us about thing happening in the world at any given time, but podcasts fill the gap of all those things left unreported, things happening in the every day lives of people living in countries we may not even have heard of, let alone have any working knowledge about. Learning more about new issues broadens our mind, and can deepen our levels of cultural sensitivity, empathy and compassion, which in turn will only serve to help us be better human beings.
Informative and Educational
With a wide range of subjects covered by all sorts of entities and individuals, podcasts are quickly becoming an educational tool of its own right. There’s something about listening to people who’ve excelled in a particular field speak from personal experience about what they’ve found along their journey, their mistakes and triumphs, that’s so enlightening, and can’t be found in textbooks. Not to be overlooked is the fact that recent research shows that the wealthiest households in America represent the biggest proportion of podcast consumers. I’m not saying there’s necessarily a correlation between wealth and listening to podcasts, but if some of the most financially successful are doing so, it’s a smart move, especially if you’re among the growing number of information entrepreneurs.
There’s something for everybody
Honestly, if you can dream up a subject that interests you, there will be a podcast about it, guaranteed. I have a broad and perhaps eclectic mix of interests, and it was exhilarating to find that there was such a wide variety of podcasts available to inform, inspire, motivate and entertain. Best of all, they’re nicely categorised under logical, easy to find headings and subheadings, and you can flip with ease from one to another. If you’re looking for inspiration, start with Ted Talks and The Lively Show to get you started.
Provide relief from the tedium of reading
Listening to podcasts saves your precious eyes from screen time. The digital age has tied us to our computers and mobile devices as we satiate our thirst for more knowledge. But podcasts offer a brilliant respite from the unceasing glare of your screen and the unending pages of text. What’s more, in case you had a worry that you’d be missing out on things that you would have been able to gather from the equivalent information in text form, science proves you won’t be- you’re paying as much attention to and soaking up as much information from podcasts as you would be had you been reading.
Take it On the Go
Ideal for commuters, podcasts come in different lengths, from 10 minutes to round about an hour, which means you can choose one that suits how long you have to listen at any given time, so that you can actually finish an episode without having to pause and re-start later (for instance, I’ve just subscribed to the 10 minute-long episodes of the Side Hustle School podcast for when I need something quick). I’ve found it handy to have my journal handy to jot down any useful points I come across that I want to explore later on. But don’t worry if you’re not able to write something down while listening, since the podcast is likely to be tied to a website on which show notes are provided, which give super helpful summaries of what’s been mentioned in a particular episode.
Redeem ‘lost’ time
Podcasts enable the efficient use of time by allowing you to pursue personal growth and development while completing ‘mindless’ tasks. Doing household chores, commuting on crowded public transport, walking the dog, stuck in traffic, waiting on your kids to finish one of their many extracurricular activities- these are but a few examples of times during your day you feel like you’re not being productive. Podcasts satisfy the desire you have not to be wasting your time and help you to be more productive overall. They’re a multi-taskers best friend, helping you to break up the monotony of tasks not requiring a lot of concentration. For me, working out has never felt so good with my podcast of choice in my ear!
Meets the needs of many
The format of podcasts works well for those with short- attention spans or simply in need of easily digestible material. They also fulfill the need for socialisation by those working remotely from their office, or work from home - following conversations can help to combat feelings of isolation, under-stimulation and loneliness. Podcasts are also great for introverts looking less involved social interaction.
Podcasts are a rich and diverse form of media which will only take on new dimensions in the future as more businesses and individuals with different opinions, expertise and perspectives seek to make their voices heard. They’re convenient, easy to use and jam-packed with useful information, and are a great means of rounding out your personal development.
In following articles, I’ll list some of my favourite podcasts. In the meantime, drop me a comment and tell me if you are a podcast listener and name some of your top recommendations!