All it takes to laugh at funny jokes or learn from successful entrepreneurs is an audio-downloading device. Just download a podcast, an audio file, and listen to anyone and everyone from comedians to CEOs speak. A simple click opens a world of conversations. From anywhere and at any time, stories can be shared and lessons can be taught.
For Paula Okonneh, host of the podcast series “Chatting with the Experts,” the stories and lessons she broadcasts center around entrepreneurship. In her episodes, Okonneh interviews businesspeople about their ventures, experiences, and insights. In an episode, a listener gains lessons that have taken the featured experts years to accumulate. For busy listeners, multi-tasking and productivity are increased by the portability of podcasts. During a gym workout, the details of how a business owner worked out problems can be revealed. While taking a jog, the story of how an executive runs a company can be played.
This is the convenience of podcasts, and the specialty of Okonneh’s show. “Chatting with the Experts” focuses on discovering “the success and challenges small to mid-sized businesses had, and then sharing their stories with other entrepreneurs.” Curiosity about how successful business owners achieved their success fueled Okonneh to launch her podcast series. Her own curiosity led her to realize that she “wasn’t the only one who felt that way,” and that there was both a large audience and a large pool of interviewees. Thus, “Chatting with the Experts” was born.
By announcing at networking events that she sought to interview successful business people, Okonneh was able to “ask the questions that everyone was thinking but not asking.” And by using podcasts as her medium, Okonneh was able to connect flourishing entrepreneurs with people who wished to similarly succeed. As her show has grown, Okonneh has expanded both her audience and her interviewee pool, with listeners asking to be interviewed and entrepreneurs being referred to her. This positive feedback loop helps all involved. Listeners can discover opportunities, entrepreneurs can promote themselves, and Okonneh can spread her show – another testament to the power of podcasts.
Though Okonneh also runs a website and a blog for her show, she began with podcasts because at first, she “wasn’t comfortable with public speaking or being in front of the camera.” Podcasts are an especially useful medium because the audio elements are front and center – there is no need for special makeup, no keyboard requirement, no naked audience. Just a clear voice and a recording device. Then just another few clicks to upload to iTunes or a website, and a cozy conversation between two can be heard by millions.
Besides reaching a huge audience and helping a camera-shy interviewer, Okonneh points out that podcasts are also a relaxed platform for interviewees who are anxious about public speaking, yet still want to tell their tale. To alleviate this speaking fear, Okonneh recommends that interviewees “identify frequently asked questions,” which are questions that listeners typically want answers to. If an interviewee prepares for questions the audience wants answered, he or she will be less nervous when asked these questions, and can even “encourage [the host] to ask these questions.”
On the other side of the table, Okonneh encourages interviewers to ask these questions, which should showcase the knowledge of the interviewee to satisfy the curiosity of the audience. She emphasizes that it is important to “be succinct, know what your listeners are interested in, and be able to whittle down your questions to suit the attention span of your listeners.”
Okonneh’s advice is founded upon the scores of interviews that she has conducted, all of which bring her great joy. As an entrepreneur with her own expertise, Okonneh offers important advice. From her experiences, she has learned to “remember everyone had a first day. Of course it’s scary to start a business, but once you put into consideration that the longest journey starts with the first step, it’s easier.” Okonneh also reminds herself that she is not alone, and that failures are lessons for improvement. These lessons have been re-affirmed by her interviewees, who have taught her that “we all have similar stories, but different journeys.”
For those wishing to hear more stories about entrepreneurship and take a journey into podcasting, Okonneh’s parting advice is to “subscribe to your favorite shows and then have them delivered to your phone, iPad, or favorite tablets.” There are also options to choose a genre or topic – for example, Okonneh learned a lot about the recent Brexit from a podcast, while exercising at the gym. To listen to Okonneh’s “Chatting with the Experts,” or to explore other podcasts, simply search through iTunes or on the web. With a few clicks, you can laugh and learn today!
Contributor: Madelyn Chen