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John Tomlinson

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Learning and Development Consultant

Read more from John Tomlinson

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Listen! Not everything’s visual. Use more podcasts!


People should use podcasts more in learning and development.

It’s a very easy and accessible way of creating additional content to complement face-to-face learning events.

A podcast is just an audio file.

You can listen to a podcast online, or, more usually, download it and listen on your phone when commuting or out running or at the gym.

It’s as simple as that.

The advantages of podcast are:

  1. It’s very simple to create, and very simple to download and listen to
  2. It can be used to add detail or reinforce learning
  3. It works well for people with auditory communication preferences

The disadvantage is only that non-auditory people will lose concentration during the podcast, and may be less enthusiastic about bothering to download and listen.

If you’re interested in creating audio content to complement your courses, here are five top tips, absolute golden nuggets of priceless advice, to help you on the way:

  • Get a decent microphone. At the very least this must be a one that plugs into a USB port not a headphones jack, or worse, the integrate microphone on the computer. I have a USB mike attached to headphones that I don’t recommend because it picks up headphones noise and every time you smile you get creaky sound – fortunately I’m quite a miserable person so this latter issue is kept to a minimum
  • Don’t just talk. If you can, involve other people so it’s more like a conversation. If you can’t, you can use clips or break up content with short breaks (a jingle, a burst of music, whatever). All of my podcast involves me interviewing a different trainer (or facilitator, or L&D professional) each month about a particular tool, technique or theory they want to share, it is never just me
  • Be natural. Don’t worry about sounding like a plummy BBC announcer from the 1930s, but don’t overdo the brilliantly hilarious time you’re having by giggling away for 50% of the podcast. I used to try to sound like I thought a professional broadcaster should sound, but recently I’ve been leaving in mistakes and trying to be a lot more natural and it works a lot better.
  • Use structure. Most people drift in and out of audio and will lose their place and forget what you’re talking about. Remind them often. Summarise often, and provide a structure of things you’re going to talk about, and then keep reminding the audience where you are in that structure.
  • Provide visuals online. If your subject needs visuals, you can describe them during the podcast (which is OK, but not very effective), but you can also publish them online and refer them during the cast. You can also turn your podcast into a YouTube video and include these visuals in the video.

And talking of YouTube, I think podcasts beat video in the same way that radio beats TV: it’s a lot more portable and demands a lot less of your attention. You can do other things while listening to audio, but to watch a YouTube video or the TV, you have to focus.

It’s also a lot easier to make.

My own podcast ( is released monthly, and apart from the hour or so it takes to record, there is maybe only another couple of hours spent editing, uploading and generally tidying it up and getting it released.

So give it a go! Create podcasts for learners (not just auditory types) to better remember the training content and deepen their knowledge of the subject.

Author Profile Picture
John Tomlinson

Learning and Development Consultant

Read more from John Tomlinson

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