All of us have “clients” – people who ask us to help them develop learning programs. Some of our clients are internal to our organizations. Some of us are contractors whose clients are external to our organizations. Just about all of us develop learning programs for clients who are not in the training industry. We work or partner with human resources or finance or tech or early childhood development or construction or… the list goes on.
While we should be at the top of our game when it comes to the most current trends, research and best practices in learning design, we should also have a decent understanding of the industry in which we develop learning programs.
Here are five reasons I think it’s essential for us to spend some time listening to industry-specific podcasts:
Reason 1: They offer insights from industry leaders to whom you otherwise might not have access.
Yes, you can read books or articles or maybe even go to a conference and hear a keynote from some of the biggest names in your industry, but podcasts often offer those voices and more. Maybe you want to hear from CEOs, but sometimes you may want to hear from people in your industry who are one or two or ten rungs below the C-level.
Podcasts give voice (and give you an opportunity to listen to) leaders and frontline practitioners alike.
Reason 2: Podcasts are a “low friction” professional development opportunity.
Podcasts are asynchronous media that you can listen to at any time, anywhere. Yes, books and industry magazine articles are also asynchronous media, but it’s tough to digest time when you’re driving, going for a run or when you’re getting ready for the day.
You can literally listen to a podcast during any moment that you’re awake. And they’re generally free.
Reason 3: Many industries, sectors and topical areas (like leadership, for example) have plenty of podcasts to choose from.
A lot of “top 5” will suggest five specific podcasts to listen to. Unfortunately, I can’t do that because, dear reader, I don’t know your specific industry. That said, I can say with a fair degree of certainty, that if you were to google “podcast” and your industry (or your topical area of focus, or your sector), you’ll find a number of search results that can be helpful.
With the proliferation of inexpensive recording equipment and editing software, podcasts have become an extremely popular way for various companies and individuals to share their expertise and insights. This means that not only are you likely to find a variety of perspectives, but you can also find a variety of formats. In most cases, you’ll also be able to find podcasts that fit your schedule, whether you only have 5 minutes between meetings or if you have a 90-minute commute and you need something to help you pass the time.
Reason 4: They may provide content you otherwise wouldn’t have thought of.
With so many podcasts available, chances are that you’ll hear something new, something you won’t generally find in standard industry publications. When you do hear new or novel nuggets, you may even want to incorporate that new content into a training program that you’re developing (with permission from the podcast, of course).
Reason 5: They’re free.
They say you get what you pay for. Sometimes that’s true with podcasts. Some people will simply read something they’ve already written into a microphone, upload it, and call it a podcast. Some podcasts have sketchy audio quality or worse, poor quality content. On the other hand, there are so many high quality podcasts. If you listen to a podcast such a “How I Built This” or “Hidden Brain“, you’ll find a lot of work has gone into the editing, background music selection and overall production quality and you’ll hear what a podcast can be. Most podcasts you’ll find won’t be quite as professionally produced, but they’ll still offer you a front row seat to industry leaders, practitioners and professionals talking about some of the most pertinent topics in your industry. For free.