Podcasts: a modern weapon in your arsenal of training tactics

Written by Rebecca Case, Senior Account Manager on Tuesday 8th June 2021

In a growing landscape of digital solutions, it is no surprise that podcasts have found their place as an accessible method of knowledge dissemination. Global podcast listenership has been steadily rising for years with no signs of slowing.1 An estimated 57% of the total US population over the age of 12 listen to podcasts today compared with that of 11% in 2006.1  But why have podcasts become so popular and how can you use them to help upskill your team?

The popularity of podcasts

The increase in popularity of the podcast format could be attributed to several factors. In this modern age we are bombarded with visual data, information, and media consistently from our televisions, computers, and portable electronic devices such as phones and tablets. Podcasts provide a welcome break for our brains, allowing us to process information through an alternative format that allows us to switch off from our screens.

Our modern age has also become a busier place which makes multitasking much more desirable. With no visual stimuli, the podcast format lends itself nicely to multitasking, extending the bounds from which we can consume information. A recent study has shown that although 49% of podcast listening happens at home, 22% happens while driving, 11% happens at work, and 8% while exercising.2 Through podcasts it has now become possible to explore topics that interest us whilst completing day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, driving and exercising.

The flexibility of the podcast format means that information can also be consumed in bite-sized chunks as well as longer episodes and this, combined with its multitasking potential, make podcasts an interesting and incredibly accessible form of training for medical professionals.

Podcasts as a platform for professional development

Podcasts are a fantastic tool to enhance the knowledge and understanding of your workforce on topics key to their role. Studies have shown that consuming information through multiple formats can aid in our ability to recall that information and therefore reinforce learning3. Deep diving into key topics and the discussive format of podcasts build up layers of context and a more narrative approach to relating complex data to real world clinical practice.

In the pharmaceutical industry, the accessibility of podcasts is a significant bonus allowing Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) and sales representatives to utilise the dead time when travelling to and waiting to see healthcare professionals (HCPs) to upskill their knowledge and enhance their performance.

Therefore, podcasts in combination with traditional methods of training such as webinars and reading materials can be a powerful form of knowledge reinforcement.

What to consider when planning a podcast series

Your audience

When planning a podcast series, it is important to consider your audience. Clearly identifying who you are aiming to train through your podcast series will dictate both the key topics for your series, the appropriate length of your podcasts and the appropriate frequency to disseminate new episodes. Wherever possible it is important to engage with your audience within this planning stage to identify what is important to them. Engaging through surveys or working groups will also support in developing awareness for the series and therefore improve the uptake of your podcasts upon launch. It is equally as important to connect with your audience once the podcast series has been launched to evaluate the success of the series and identify areas of improvement.

Your speakers

To make a truly engaging podcast series it is important to introduce a variety of speakers, diversify the content by bringing in different viewpoints and voices. These speakers should be knowledge experts from within the organisation or external experts and HCPs, but it is also important to consider a mix of genders, races, ages and roles to bring in a range of experiences and opinions. If it is possible to include the patient voice within your series, then we would highly recommend this as the patient experience is extremely impactful and speaks to the core motivations of your audience.

Think outside of the box

The flexibility of the podcast format means that the content itself does not need to follow a traditional structure. Although podcasts are a good place to discuss key data, industry trends and the viewpoints of healthcare professionals, it is also an opportunity to connect with your audience on a different level and provide a platform to discuss topics that may enhance the core curriculum. ‘Nice-to-know’ topics rather than ‘need-to-know’ topics can provide context and insights which boosts the interest of your learners by allowing them to consider their professional development more holistically and building a stronger connection with their own organisation. Such topics could include discussions with internal stakeholders on the process behind launching a product and the lessons learned along the way; interviews with senior team leaders on their career histories and what their current role entails; or sharing best practice between countries on how they overcame specific challenges.

Tips and tricks for recording podcasts

You do not need to buy expensive equipment

Although the audio quality of podcasts improve with the quality of recording equipment you use, it is not essential to book recording studios, or send your speakers expensive recording equipment if they are contributing remotely, to record a good quality podcast. Podcasts can easily be recording using online meeting platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and WebEx, however it is recommended to schedule a test recording with your speakers prior to recording each episode to ensure that the quality of their microphones and internet connections are adequate. The editing of your podcasts can also be done cost effectively by using one of the many online editing platforms available for free or through an annual subscription.

Don’t be tempted to get too scripted

The most engaging podcasts are those that feel like natural conversations. Although it is important to plan each podcast in advance with the chosen speakers, it is best to agree only on the key topics for discussion or interview questions rather than developing a full script to allow the conversation to flow naturally.

Your podcast platform is key

To guarantee the effectiveness of your podcast series, you must ensure that the podcasts can be easily accessed through portable electronic devices. This allows the podcasts to be easily accessed on-the-go. Therefore, we recommend investing in a web-based podcast platform to house your content if an existing solution is not available to you within your organisation.

OPEN Health’s L&D team brings together unique skill sets and a wealth of healthcare training and communications experience, which means we can offer high-quality, bespoke, self-directed learning programs to our clients. If you would like to hear more about how we collaborate with our clients to design, develop and deliver competitive training programs, please get in touch.

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[1]. Edison research and triton digital. 2021. The Infinite Dial 2021. http://www.edisonresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/The-Infinite-Dial-2021.pdf (Accessed 06 June 2021)

[2]. Voxnest. 2020. 2020 Mid-Year Podcast Industry Report. https://blog.voxnest.com/2020-mid-year-podcast-industry-report/ (Accessed 06 June 2021)

[3] Kobus DA, Moses JD, Bloom FA. Effect of multimodal stimulus presentation on recall. Percept Mot Skills. 1994 Feb;78(1):320-2. doi: 10.2466/pms.1994.78.1.320. PMID: 8177681.