Anthony Haynes writes: This episode is the first in an occasional series dedicated to reviews of grey literature products.
The review is of a podcast published by Jenni Field, namely Redefining Communications. The review seeks to identify the strengths of her use of the form.
Redefining Communications is available here.
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This episode is published by Frontinus Ltd. We're a communications consultancy that helps organisations and individuals to communicate scientific, professional, and technical content to non-specialist audiences.
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This episode is the first in an occasional series of episodes devoted to reviews of specific products in the area of gray literature. And the product I wish to review today is a podcast. It's a podcast presented by Jenny Field, and it's called Redefining Communications. Redefining communications deals with a whole range of aspects of internal communications. The type of communication goes on within organizations, and the focus tends to be on quite broad factors, humanistic factors, cultural and organizational factors, more than it is on technical aspects of communication or specific details of communication. But the focus of my review is not really on the content of the podcast, redefining communications. My focus is rather on the form. In other words, what can we learn about podcasting from the case study of redefining communications? So I specifically looking at aiming to identify good practice in this podcast, I think it's an exceptional podcast in, in one way in particular, which is, um, it seems to me a rare example of a podcast that is a monologue and yet is successful. I have listened to a whole number of podcasts which use monologue as the main form, and I tend to give up with them. They tend to get a bit boring in my opinion. And I have persisted with redefining communications because I think it's effective as a monologue, e even you might say, despite being a monologue. And so my question is what makes it successful? And I'd like to present half a dozen suggestions far away of my answer to that question. The first is a duration. The episodes tend to be about 15 minutes, and I think that's important for monologues. I've actually decided to use a monologue form for our occasional series devoted to reviews, including this episode precisely because I don't think the episodes are likely to be very lengthy. It's easy enough to listen to a single voice for maybe 15 minutes, but not for 45 minutes. So I think the duration is part of the success of the effectiveness of the podcast. Then there's the approach. That would be my second point. I think it's a constructive approach. Um, Jenny Field is grounded. She's aware that there are difficulties in internal communications, but she's not interested in simply pointing out that it's all very difficult or just leaving you with lots of problems. So it all feels insuperable. Ultimately, it's a constructive podcast designed to help the listener find their way through problems and and overcome challenges. I would describe the approach very much as pragmatic. There's a great focus on what I think of ocracy, of finding ways to get things done. And I also think there's, uh, a good deal of eclecticism. That's to say one of the strengths of the podcast is Jenny Field brings in tools and frameworks from a whole variety of sources and brings them together in order to, to help the listener apply these things to their own work. So I'd say the approach as well as the duration, are contribute to factors. I think also there's a structure of the episodes. They are clearly structured. Uh, they've obviously been carefully planned. The structure is signed, posted typically at the beginning of each episode. And then during the episode, Jenny Field will refer back to the structure and the structures are reasonably simple. They're not too complicated or sophisticated, so you can follow them. Lots of people listen to podcasts when they're commuting on the train or in the car or whatever, and, uh, you know, they don't want it to be too strenuous, too cognitively demanding to listen to. And I think one of the things Jenny Field does is keep the structure reasonably simple. Another factor that attracts me to this podcast is the way it's carefully composed. You can tell in terms of style that although there's probably a little bit of, uh, improvisation during the actual recording, I guess there has been a lot of careful thought into how points will be phrased and presented. And from that point of view, when you've reflect on the, the structure and the composition, I think these, um, episodes have quite an essayistic feel. And one of the ways of looking at the genre of a podcast is to see it as a digital equivalent of an essay. And I think that is true in the case of redefining communications. So let me move on to a further factor in what I regard as the effectiveness of this podcast, which is for style. I think Jenny Field uses everyday language. She's not concerned in with trying to impress people with jargon. I think she speaks to people on a level she's confident, she's confident she's got things to say that could help you out, but she also has respect for the listener and therefore as this sense of someone on your side talking to you pretty much on a level, a further factor, cuz I think there are several, is a use of what I'm gonna call parallelisms in a language. I'll explain what I mean by that. I think Jenny Field is actually good at repeating things, uh, not repeating things word for word, but what she will often do is say something and then represent that using slightly different phrasing to say the same thing. Sometimes she'd change her grammar, for instance, say something in the third person and then say it in the third person. Or she'd give a generalization and then say what she means by giving an example. And strictly speaking from a logical point of view, you could say, well, there's a, she's using a good deal of redundancy there that sometimes extra sentences and clauses are not really adding to the information. Uh, but although it might be logically redundant, actually often when we're listening to stuff, we want a bit of redundancy built in because we're not necessarily good at following everything and grasping everything perfectly first time round. So I think it's very helpful to the listener to have this sort of parallelism sort of saying same things more than once, but not in a way that sounds repetitious. The final point about redefining communication I'd like to bring out is its consistency. Uh, I think it's consistent in approach. You know what to expect, you know, what you're getting. I think it's consistent in its production values and I think it's consistent in its quality. So from a formal point of view, I think there's much that can be learned from redefining communications and applying to other areas of podcasting concerning professional communication. Thank you everyone for listening. Gray Lit Cafe is edited by Dr. Bart Hallmark and produced by From Limited, from specializes in gray lit to form such as proposals, publications, papers, and reports. The music is from handles water music courtesy, the United States Marine Band and Marine Chamber Orchestra.