A few months ago, I was a judge for the Australian Cast Away Awards, and I got a chance to listen to a huge variety of shows I’d never have otherwise heard. I learned a lot from that experience–tips and tricks–that I wanted to share with other podcasters, but ever since then, I’ve been thinking about what I have learned from podcasts as a medium. Obviously I listen to podcasts to learn something, but the medium as a whole has shifted my outlook on people, places, history, and community. I see podcasting as a microcosm of society in some ways. So here is a list of the 10 things, or “commandments,” that this mega-uber-ultra-consumer of podcasts (I listen to about 40-50 hours of podcasts a aweek) has learned over the last couple of years:
- Unapologetically share your passion. There is someone out there who also cares about your passion, and you may inspire passion in others. You might help a student on a test, you might spark a new research subject for an academic, or you might make someone burst out laughing in an open-plan office space that is totally silent.
- Know your audience and edit yourself. While #1 is true, not everyone is as passionate as you are and it’s okay to hold a few things back in order to craft an appropriate story arc. If you’re introducing an idea for the first time, provide clarity for the audience and let them know the good old “what’s in it for me.”
- Plan what you want to say before you say it. Also useful in business and marriage! “Loose cannon” is not a complimentary term. Rambling is a distraction and sometimes a buzz kill. That outline format you learned in middle school is a great way to plan out a project or story. Or life!
- Accept compliments graciously. The most genuine people I’ve come to know through podcasts are the ones that appreciate your feedback – their passion truly shines through. It’s such a difficult thing for many people to do, but you help the compliment-giver feel good if you accept the praise. And when you feel complimented, you’re likely to pass on the good karma to others: a winning situation all around.
- Take the high road. There’s nothing to be gained from being a keyboard warrior, and you don’t even know who will see what you write. I can’t even count how many podcast hosts and producers I’ve interacted with while writing reviews here on Audible Feast – most of those interactions are very positive but not all. The really negative experiences really stick in my mind, and just like a Yelp review, those are the ones people most often talk about.
- Have emotions. It’s healthy! It’s great to laugh, it’s okay to be sad, it’s fine to feel angry about awful politicians of any persuasion. Talking about and listening to emotions can provide a connection to a community.
- Be yourself and be happy with who you are. Don’t worry about what people say about your voice, but put your best voice forward with confidence. Everyone has self-worth and value.
- Follow through. If you say you’re going to post something on a website, send an e-mail, interview someone – do it. Or don’t say you’re going to do it!
- Be open to the uncomfortable. Open-mindedness will allow you to make connections with fascinating people. Everyone has a story worth telling and we can all benefit from more empathy, both receiving and giving it.
- Learn from history. History repeats itself – consciously try to make your generation’s history better for the ones that follow. And learn about who came before you, who paved the road so it wasn’t so bumpy, and who the pioneers were.
Go forth and be good citizens, not keyboard warriors, and remember to laugh and learn!
Audible Feast is a podcast review and recommendation site with periodic individual show reviews and weekly “best of the week” recommendations – the Delicious Ingredients that have made up my Audible Feast each week. An accompanying newsletter is published biweekly, and I track everything I listen to here.