No I am not trying to sell you an eBook on how to make the perfect podcast and I’m not looking to rent you my god-like podcast consulting services at an “ungodly” rate. I don’t care if you make a podcast, what I want to talk about today is how to use a podcast from a listener’s point of view. It seems that everyone out there these days is experimenting with podcasts (I may even jump on the bandwagon myself at some point), and apparently they are the much ballyhooed (there’s a throwback word) “next big thing” in the web world. Given my initial experiences with this relatively new medium of communication, I can definitely see that there is potential for a lot of people to tune out of podcasts and not see the benefits of them if you don’t know how to use them properly.
Isn’t Podcasting Basically Radio?
When I first seen this whole podcast idea, I was skeptical to say the least. I thought, “When do I have time to sit down and listen to someone talk for 45 minutes?” It turns out I was basically right. I tried to listen to a few podcasts concerning topics I was interested in, and I just didn’t find it all that stimulating, and for someone who is used to reading through blog posts and academic journal articles and full speed+, the information seemed to be delivered so slowly and with so much fluff (BTW, if you thought this was a post on how to make a great podcast, that experience should be a big hint – get rid of the fluff and condense your content).
There were two things that changed my view on podcasts and got me thinking about how to use a podcast to maximize entertainment value and efficiency. The first was doing dishes and the second was Bill Simmons. I’m probably the only person to ever say that. Doing dishes is my contribution to the food preparation process in our house. I’m not a terrible cook, but I have no patience for it, and I don’t particularly like to try new things, so my girlfriend generally dominates that part of the operation. When I’m doing dishes I found I liked to keep my mind busy with other things, and since I’m not a big music guy, I started listening to “The Sports Guy” Podcast by Bill Simmons. I have read his columns for years (big plug here, if you love sports and want to waste copious amounts of time at work then Bill Simmons is your boy) and thought I’d give his podcasts a shot. While I didn’t find them as hard-hitting as his columns, the podcasts were pretty cool in a talk radio/background noise kind of way. So it became kind of a ritual for me to do the dishes and tune in to some sports talk.
How To Use a Podcast – Tips and Advantages
I hadn’t really thought about other applications of podcasts at this point, until I started seeing them on “how to” sites. Whether it is talking about running a small business, or building a blog, I found some authors that were relevant to me, and they will often recommend each other. This little bit of research quickly allowed me to eliminate so much of the absolute garbage podcasts that are out there (probably a direct result of this whole “build a podcast and you will instantly be famous” movement that is going around). Now I am the first person to admit that I still much prefer reading columns to listening to podcasts on a certain topic, but learning how to use a podcast efficiently can make it worthwhile. As a guy who reads pretty quickly and is used to that means of communication, I still like how much information I can absorb at a quick pace that way. However, where the podcast can be a great supplemental tool to your reading flow.
Here are the keys in terms of using a podcast efficiently, and the advantages of doing so:
- Don’t think that a podcast has to replace reading, instead use your reading to make your podcast listening more targeted and vice versa
- Schedule podcasts into your routine in order to maximize time. If you like to go for a walk, or are washing dishes, or have a long drive to work, you can’t be reading anyway. So a podcast is a great way to max out activities and keep your mind active.
- Podcasts are great for providing a little personal context on situations, and this may give you a perspective you otherwise wouldn’t get purely through reading.
- Ignore the majority of podcasts out there, they still suck. Check out sources that you trust for information already and see what they recommend.
I know have 3-4 podcasts that I truly trust and will check out pretty regularly. Good podcasters will throw up a little summary about what topics the podcast covers, and this is a great filtering tool to make sure your time is only spent listening to exactly what you want (huge advantage over radio). Like many men out there, most people wouldn’t call me great at multitasking, but podcasts make it easy to get some decent entertainment or information in while you are accomplishing other mundane activities. That’s why I believe that if you learn how to use a podcast effectively, it can be a valuable tool in your time management toolbox.