Photo cred: Corey Blaz, via Unsplash

How to talk to your family about podcasts

Because the holidays are just around the corner

A chill sweeps over your entire body. The room has gone silent. You search the eyes of the people around you, hoping to see some glimmer of understanding, even simple recognition. They return only blank stares. These people who are closest to you, your friends, your family, your next of kin, have no idea what you’re talking about.

Let’s back up. It’s Thanksgiving. You are gathered around the table, everyone catching up on the year that’s passed since you last broke bread. You joke that “at least once a year is better than Buzz and Sheldon!” “Who are Buzz and Sheldon,” your family wants to know. You explain the story of two brothers, estranged from each other, brought back together after years of silence by their bumbling, nervous son/nephew. Your family leans in, rapt, and wants to know, where you heard this story.

“I heard it on this podcast!” you say, delighted to be the center of attention.

And that’s when the silence falls.

Catching the panic in your eyes, your aunt throws you a bone. “What,” she says, raising an exquisitely plucked eyebrow, “is a pot cast?”

This moment is coming for you. But we here at Gimlet Media are here to help! We have this same interaction on a regular basis. We have the tools to help you navigate this tricky conversation. Just follow these three easy steps, and your aunt will be laughing about how bad Alex Blumberg is at pitching his startup in no time.

Step 1: Educate

Your chief tool is empathy. Remember that you too once lived in a time when you didn’t know what a podcast was. Think back to that moment. What did it feel like when you first learned there were thousands of hours of interesting stories out there, that you could listen to whenever you wanted — if you only knew how to get to them.

Stick with the basics: Where podcasts are, which ones are about what. It’s too early to get into the advanced stuff, that some podcasts are being made into TV shows (like Gimlet’s StartUp), or books, or are BASED on TV shows, or books. Comparisons are especially helpful at this stage:

  • It’s like a radio show, but you can get it whenever you want!
  • It’s kind of like a movie, but you make the pictures in your head!
  • It’s like the news but you can keep listening to it when you get out of your car!
  • You know how there are blogs about anything and everything? Well, there are podcasts out there for anything and everything too!
  • Did we mention they’re all FREE?!

Step 2: Excite

Got them interested? Get them pumped! Dig a little deeper. Take a page from podcasts themselves — show, don’t tell. Talk about a story you heard, where you were when you heard it, how it made you miss your stop on the train or made your morning run feel magical. Talk about the things you’ve learned from podcasts, how you’ve seen the world a little bit differently since listening. This is the part where you invoke a little bit of that technique from pitching that Alex learned in the very first episode of StartUp — FOMO. Let them taste a snippet of what they’re missing out on, and they’ll be ready and primed for the next step.

Step 3: Evangelize

This is where you grab their phones. No seriously. Gimlet Media team members do this constantly. The barrier for a lot of people is that they literally don’t know which podcast client to use. But you do. You’re a big fan of one. So download that one for them, and then subscribe them to some of your faves. If they’re anxious about handing over their phones, pull out yours and show them this classic video:

You know your audience at this point, and this is your chance to make their first dive into the world of podcasts amazing. We’re might be a little biased, but we think Gimlet Media podcasts are a great place to start.

If you play this right, next year you’ll be getting recommendations from them!