S9 E4: Developing Communication Skills Through Podcasting

Given the noise in public discourse, effective communication is more essential than ever before. Learning to podcast isn’t just about creating audio content; it’s a powerful tool for improving and developing your communication skills. In this blog post, we’ll explore how podcasting can help you refine your abilities to connect, convey ideas and engage with your audience, ultimately leading to better communication in various aspects of your life.

Clarity of Thoughts

Podcasting requires you to articulate your thoughts clearly and concisely. When you speak into the mic, you need to have organised your ideas so you express them in a way that your listeners can easily understand. This skill is invaluable in everyday life, whether you’re presenting at work, having a meaningful conversation with a friend or giving a speech.

By learning to podcast, you’ll become more adept at expressing complex ideas in a coherent and accessible manner. This is a transferable skill.

Listening Not Just Hearing

Effective communication is a two-way street and listening is just as important as speaking. In podcasting, you often interact with guests, co-hosts or your audience through feedback and comments. This interaction encourages you to be an active and empathetic listener.

The key is to understand what your guest/co-host is trying to say. Repeat back a summary of what you think you heard to confirm before moving on. This keeps those in the conversation on the same page and helps listeners to follow the conversations in a clearer manner. To do this you need to give your full attention to the speaker, not just wait for them to stop talking so you can ask the next question on your list. 

Active listening often leads down roads you weren’t expecting to places of great insight and knowledge. Once you start developing this ability to truly hear and understand others, your communications with everyone, work, home and socially, will change for the better.

Enhancing Public Speaking Abilities

Now I’m one of the expectations to the rule. I’ve never had an issue speaking in public but was terrified with a mic in my face. Even one I’d put there myself. I do understand public speaking can be a daunting task for many people and podcasting offers a unique opportunity to practise speaking in front of an audience without the pressure of having eyes looking back. Over time, you’ll become more comfortable with your own voice and presentation style.

The confidence gained through podcasting can significantly improve your public speaking abilities, making you a more effective and engaging communicator when addressing larger groups or delivering presentations. To be fair, while I wasn’t bothered by public speaking, my podcasting practice has improved my public speaking.

Storytelling Mastery

Podcasting is inherently a storytelling medium. Whether you’re narrating personal experiences, sharing anecdotes or presenting factual information, you’ll refine your storytelling skills in the doing as much as in the planning. Storytelling is a compelling way to connect with your audience and it’s a skill that can be applied in various settings.

Mastering the art of storytelling through podcasting allows you to craft engaging narratives, capture attention and leave a lasting impact when communicating with others in both personal and professional contexts.

Building Confidence in Conversations

Learning to podcast often starts with recording yourself, which can be intimidating at first. Indeed when you begin, you’ll probably be more concerned with the tech, the uploading and waiting for the episode to pop up on your podcatcher. Because this happens to most people, I recommend a fully scripted first season or at least first few episodes. Yours words are ready, you know your subject and can read with feeling as you watch meters and levels and listen to yourself through your headphones. It helps to build confidence.

However, as you become more accustomed to hearing your own voice and providing commentary on various topics, your self-confidence will grow.

This newfound confidence extends beyond podcasting, making you more self-assured in everyday conversations. Whether you’re chatting with friends, networking at a social event or engaging in a job interview, your increased confidence will positively influence the way you communicate. I’ve found this to be particularly so in networking situations which I used to avoid like the plague. Knowing how to ask open ended questions and actively listen relieved much of the stress.

Adapting to Diverse Audiences

Podcasting exposes you to a diverse audience with varying backgrounds, perspectives and preferences. To maintain a loyal and engaged listenership, you may need to adapt your communication style to cater to this diversity. This is where your target audience decisions come into play. There’s two schools of thought. Speak in a manner an eight year old would understand and this style is still capable of imparting detailed and deep ideas. The other style is to speak to the insiders, using jargon and abbreviations and so on. If your audience is others in a particular field of endeavour go with the second option. I tend towards the former style as it forces me to be as concise and clear as possible to any one new to the topic. This style of writing and speaking brings as many people as possible into the conversation, even if they are only listening to it.

This adaptability in podcasting translates into a valuable life skill. Whether you’re interacting with colleagues, clients or friends, your ability to adjust your communication approach to meet the needs of different audiences will lead to more effective interactions.

Confidence in Creating Content

Podcasting involves content creation, obviously, from planning episodes to scripting discussions or interviews. As you become proficient in developing content that resonates with your audience, you’ll also add a kind of discipline to your creative abilities.

This confidence can extend to various aspects of your life, whether you’re writing reports at work, brainstorming ideas in a team meeting or even composing personal essays or stories. The skills you develop in podcasting will empower you to generate content in its broadest sense. One of the dangers in starting to podcast is that suddenly you’ll see story ideas everywhere. Containing your enthusiasm is a real problem but there are far worse problems to have.

Networking and Collaboration

Podcasting often involves collaboration with co-hosts, guests and other podcasters. Building and maintaining professional relationships in the podcasting community can be a networking asset. Podcasters are, by our very nature, helpful types. I’ve never had an issue with any other producer when I’ve asked for help with a problem. Sometimes the responses can be too much and sorting through the options takes some time. There are as many ways to podcast as there are podcasters it would seem.

Respecting Different Perspectives

Podcasting encourages you to explore various perspectives and viewpoints, both as a host and as a listener. Exposure to diverse opinions and ideas cannot but help you develop empathy and respect for different perspectives. An open mind rarely hurt anyone. 

Empathy, respect and an open mind are qualities essential for fostering open and constructive communication, whether you’re working in a diverse team, mediating disputes or simply engaging in thoughtful conversations with others.

In conclusion, learning to podcast is an enriching journey that can significantly enhance your communication skills. Through podcasting, you’ll learn to articulate thoughts clearly, improve listening skills, enhance your public speaking abilities, master storytelling, build confidence, adapt to diverse audiences and respect different perspectives.

As you embark on your podcasting journey, you’ll not only become a better podcaster but also a more effective communicator in all aspects of your life. The benefits of learning to podcast go far beyond the microphone, ultimately equipping you with the tools and confidence to connect, engage and communicate effectively with the world around you. So, whether you’re interested in sharing your passion or enhancing your communication skills, podcasting offers a rewarding path to personal and professional growth.

The next episode, #5 in season 9 is all about the benefits of expanding your skill set through podcasting.

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