Yes, I hate podcasts.

There, I’ve said it and I know its an unpopular opinion but I really do.

It may have something to do with the fact that I’m mostly a visual learner, with a bit of read/write mixed in. So if I try to listen to a podcast, I can get through the first couple of minutes but then I zone out. If there’s a transcript I’d much rather skim my way through that. And if I do listen for longer, the experience is very much like eating peas as a child, something I had to do to get to the good stuff (aka pudding). Not something I really want to do.

Here are 3 reasons why podcasts don’t work for a lot of people:

Time Efficiency

Most people can read faster than someone can speak and if you skim the text you can get through it even faster. Videos, especially if they have slides or screencasts, are next in line for time efficiency.
Visual information is absorbed much faster than audio. Podcasts come third for time efficiency, you have to listen to a lot of words to get a couple of small nuggets.

Engagement

Video/animation wins when it comes to engagement, their moving parts and colours keep the brain engaged. On-screen text/print is next, especially if images are included. Podcasts are a distant third, except if the topic is music.

SEO & Searchability

On-screen text is definitely the best option for SEO and you can easily search a website for specific words/topics. There is no way to see if a video or podcast uses a certain word or to find out where in the presentation a specific topic is discussed. (Although some creators do give an index with the topic mentioned at specific times)

Where podcasts win:

Attention

Podcasts only require your ears, which is probably their biggest advantage. This means that you can listen to them while doing other things like commuting to work, jogging, driving. They do however require you to use your brain which means it can be a little dangerous to listen while jogging or driving on a busy road. Also, when your brain drifts, or you need to switch focus to something else. Like yelling at the idiot that cut you off – or listening to an announcer for your stop. You may miss parts of the podcast. Video requires your full attention – eyes, ears and brain. And on-screen text definitely requires full attention, however, it is the easiest to jump out of and back into. With the other forms, you might have to do some rewinding to get what you missed.

So because I don’t commute, or have any other sections of time where my brain is available for input without having to use my eyes. Podcasts just don’t work for me. And when I’m doing menial tasks I’d rather listen to music. As an aside, if I need help to get to sleep, I pop on an audiobook (aka. Sleep aid), works every time!

So if you think I’m nuts and LOVE podcasts then you’re likely an auditory learner (or a blended learner with auditory leanings). You may remember my post about different learning styles a while back.

I’ll end by asking all podcasters to please keep people like me in mind. Please provide transcripts. That allows us skimmers to quickly find what we’re after. It’s frustrating knowing that great content is out there trapped in a podcast where we can’t get to it.

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