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How to listen to podcasts

by team Holly & Co

Fill them with music and secrets. Dress them in gold. Tune out noisy neighbours… There are lots of lovely things we can do for our ears. In fact, according to Statista Research, more than 15 million of us in the UK are using ours to listen to podcasts¹. And it’s easy to see why.

For anyone who doesn’t know, a podcast is a series of audio episodes, usually designed to entertain or educate the listener, and many good ones are free. You can listen to fascinating conversations with really interesting people at your leisure. Or for work-related info, you can find out about super niche subjects to supercharge your business or career in less than an hour AND someone else has done the hard work for you. They’ll share the finely distilled wisdom — that they’ve walked barefoot over Lego in the dark to learn — and all you need to do is eavesdrop.

You don’t even need more hours in the day to do it as you can multitask. Whether you’re making dinner, working on something or getting dressed, you can find out about everything from how to conquer imposter syndrome to leveraging the power of Instagram while you’re at it, and come away wonderfully enlightened. So if you’re not one of the estimated 50% of UK adults who’ve tried them², here’s a foolproof guide to how to listen to podcasts; from choosing your preferred app, to finding new favourites.

For the many of us who’ve been stuck indoors through the pandemic or run ragged trying to keep the business on track or raise the minis without dropping any major clangers for example, we’ve been left a little… depleted.

A good podcast can lift you up, give you a virtual cuddle and encourage you to see things in a totally different way. With hope again. And colour. 

Plus if you know the best ones to listen to (yes since you’re asking, our Conversations of Inspiration, where you can hear incredible life lessons from guests like Fearne Cotton, Joe Wicks MBE and the founders of Boden and the MOBO Awards, for example), you can get that on tap. But if you’re not currently enjoying them, where do you begin?

A good podcast can lift you up, give you a virtual cuddle and encourage you to see things in a totally different way. With hope again. And colour.

To start with, choose your device and app

There are all sorts of ways to listen to podcasts: on your phone, laptop, desktop, with headphones, through speakers… just see which works for you. There are a variety of apps available now for listening to, streaming or managing podcasts, too. Apple and Spotify are popular (or Google if you’re tuning in on an Android phone). Some allow cross-device synching, so if you tend to switch between your tablet, phone and laptop a lot, they’ll share info and keep track. If you choose an app like Spotify for example, it’s algorithm will soon learn your tastes and preferences so frequently recommends new podcasts based on previous episodes that you’ve downloaded or listened to, which can be a great way to find ones you like. Plus Spotify files podcasts by categories and makes it easy to manage downloads, share recommendations through social media or even subscribe. Which brings us onto the next point…

Subscribe to follow your favourites

Nowadays, you don’t even need to look for your new ‘I’m-chomping-at-the-bit-for-the-next-one’ episodes.

Like a sumptuous Friday night take-away at the end of a long week, good podcasts come to you. Once you’ve found a series you like, simply subscribe to it or follow it for a regular boost. 

This means it’ll be added to your library instantly when a new episode comes out so you never miss a favourite, you’ll get a handy alert (which *warning* might start making your heart dance if you find ones you love), and it can soon become part of your routine. Handily, the newest will always show at the top. 

Find out how to search

If you need a whoosh of inspiration try ‘Following your dream against the odds’ or ‘Finding your happy place’. If there’s something more specific you want to learn about like ‘How to build a brand with £600’ try that. Just tap on ‘search’ (you can look things up by name or genre), have a play and see what comes up.

Also often, when people share their recommendations in passing, you may remember part of the title but not all of it. Was it ‘Contemplating Inspiration’? ‘Inspiring constipation’? Um, no… ‘Conversations of Inspiration’? Bingo. Just type in the keywords you know and the search function will usually help you (or at least throw out some interesting alternatives!).

Discover the power of recommendations 

One of the best ways to find interesting new series is just to ask friends, family, followers or founders. Reviews are also a good guide (mind you, we would say that as our podcast has almost exclusively 5 stars and the comments suggest we do a mean line in inspiration). Or if you want to listen to something that’s just as uplifting or interesting but that isn’t related to business maybe, you might have heard people raving about The Michelle Obama Podcast. Or Grounded with Louis Theroux. Or Modern Love. Or Serial. There are so many great ones out there to try that can bring a welcome mini ‘brain break’ while you’re working or doing other things.

Like a sumptuous Friday night take-away at the end of a long week, good podcasts come to you. Once you’ve found a series you like, simply subscribe to it or follow it for a regular boost.

Enjoy podcasts on the move

According to The Podcast Host, the car is the most common place to listen to podcasts³. Most modern cars have Bluetooth connection that connects to your phone so you can plug in and listen that way. If not, there’s a cable that’s widely available that connects it for you (just look for the little hole that looks like a headphones jack). Or you could use bluetooth speakers or play it directly through your phone — whatever works for you. 

Be ready to take the odd note

A final tip if you’re listening to someone you love, is to have a pad and pen handy, or pause the podcast to use the ‘notes’ feature on your phone. If you’re just listening for entertainment or inspiration then this might not be necessary. But for many of us, jotting down those golden nuggets while they’re front of mind will remind you to come back to them later. With the right podcasts, there’s so much you’ll learn that will be invaluable. 

If you fancy giving it a whirl and think your ears deserve an extra special treat, our Conversations of Inspiration podcast shares golden advice and inspiration from the UK’s best loved brands, creatives and entrepreneurs that will lift the soul and challenge the way you look at life and work. Happy listening.

Ready to try an inspiring podcast?

We’ve put together a special ‘start here’ collection of some of our most compelling Conversations of Inspiration, so you can try it out yourself.

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