Can a podcast progress your career and improve your wellbeing?
With a varied and often overcrowded podcast ecosystem, what should you listen to when time is precious and it's hard to keep up? For this month’s guest article, freelance writer and HR specialist Nicola Greenbrook is plugging in her headphones and checking out the best charity, career and all-round useful podcasts.
Podcasts aren’t a new thing. A portmanteau of the words ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast', defined by Wikipedia as 'an episodic series of digital audio or video files that a user can download in order to listen’, the first podcast is commonly believed to have been published in October 2003.
Actor, writer and director Matt Schichter had launched a weekly radio chat show called The BackStage Pass, with The Beach Boys and B.B. King as guests, recorded live and transcoded to audio for ‘dial-up online streaming’. Later known as ‘Matt Schichter Interviews’, the first podcast as we know it was born. A year later, journalist Ben Hammersley created the term ‘podcasting’ for what was then a nascent technology - and we’ve never looked back.
The rise of the super podcast
Fast forward sixteen years later and we’ve gone all-out podcast-fanatical. Writing for Third Sectorat the beginning of this year, award-winning digital communications consultant, writer and trustee Kirsty Marrins predicted that 2019 would be the year of the charity podcast.
Her prognosis wasn’t wrong. According to Ofcom, around 7.1 million of us in the UK now listen to podcasts every week. That’s one in eight people, and a 24% increase over the past year - and more than double over the past five years. We just can't get enough of them; on average those who are regular podcast enthusiasts listen to around seven podcasts a week. That’s a lot of podcasts.
Podcasts are also big business. Spotify reported in the summer that its podcast audience has grown by over 50 percent since the last quarter, and almost doubled since the start of the year. They recently redesigned its app to focus on podcasts, with 500,000 podcast titles available on the platform. Again, that's a lot of podcasts.
The benefits of being a podcast enthusiast
There’s no escaping it, winter is on its way and with that comes the frantic, multi-tasking lead up to Christmas.
Attempting to balance the getting everything finished at work by the end of the year with social commitments and festive celebrations can feel like a commotion. Inevitably, focusing on your personal learning and development, enhancing your skills or broadening your knowledge base is often put on the back burner.
That's where podcasts can come in. Challenging though it is in some respects, wintertime and frosty weather can also offer the perfect time to focus on podcasts as the nights (or should I say, 4.30pm) draws in and when you’re keen stay inside at lunchtime. Informative but relaxing and, arguably, better for our minds than a quick scan of our smartphone, listening to a podcast can provide an excellent way to satisfy curious, but frazzled, minds during busy periods.
The CIPD recognises the progression of digital learning, which includes the use of podcasts. It has become a viable way of training and developing people at work and can often be part of an organisation's wider learning strategy.
Getting into podcasts means you have a continuously available learning reference which you can access from anywhere at anytime; you could get in to work early and listen for a while over your morning coffee before the day really begins or go for a walk at lunchtime while listening.
Further benefits include:
•Access to a wide variety of podcasts that can broaden your knowledge and help you to discover new topics or trends in your sector, specialism or beyond
•Podcasts can provide a helpful bank of knowledge from which to learn new self-care strategies and aid mental health
•They can help to regain your motivation if you feel it has been dwindling, and help you to keep things fresh at work
•The motivation and encouragement to help you get away from your screen or smartphone at lunchtime - and if you’re walking then you've effortlessly added in some exercise too
•For multitaskers; you could even podcast while filing, preparing your lunch in the office kitchen or even cooking at home later than evening (just don't forget to intersperse this with human interaction too!)
The podcast market is swarming, so don't let the wrong choice ruin your commute or your lunch break. Here's a selection of useful podcasts that you might want to get stuck into:
Examining key topics and issues surrounding digital technology in the charity sector.
This successful monthly podcast with author and founder of Women Who, Otegha Uwagba, features practical advice, ideas and interviews with inspiring and successful women to help women get to where they want to be.
The monthly podcast from the UK’s leading publication for all things voluntary and not-for-profit sector. Recent topics have included what happens when your small charity goes viral, racism and representation in the charity sector and social media crisis communications.
Patricia Karpas and Ariel Garten interview a wide range of authors, experts and thought-leaders and discuss topics including mindfulness, brain health practices, leadership, life and more. Each episode aims to teach you how to slow down, reduce your stress levels and create a feeling of calm when you need it most.
The podcast series from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development focuses on a range of topical workplace, HR and L&D issues which are useful to non-HR professionals too.
In conjunction with Marriott Hotels and chaired by journalist and podcast host Pandora Sykes, this inspirational series is designed to empower individuals to pave their own way to success and includes advice, guidance and practical tips for those who want to get ahead in their careers.
A light-hearted discussion on professional development and fundraising in the charity sector, with guests from the industry sharing their experience and insight. Recorded informally across Central London pubs.
A podcast that celebrates the things that haven’t gone right. Every week, a new interviewee explores what their failures taught them about how to succeed better.
Fortnightly podcast from the not-for-profit forum for learning, and contribution to encourage social commentary. Quality content with a conversational tone.
Finally, Kirsty Marrins shared her ten sector podcasts that she thought you need to know about earlier this year.
Podcasts can help you learn, focus and broaden your mind as well as look after yourself. There’s a podcast out there for everyone and everything - have fun choosing yours!
Nicola Greenbrook - HR Specialist and Freelance Writer
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