Breaking Silence: How to Achieve Social Change Through Podcasting

I presented a talk at DC PodFest 2017 about creating social change through podcasting. See my recap to start producing your own socially empowering podcast.

What I’ve learned so far

I launched The Plural of You in the Fall of 2014. I first had the idea for a socially optimistic podcast a year and a half earlier, but I kept waiting for a perfect moment before committing to it. That perfect moment never came. I realized I needed to just pull the trigger if I wanted to move forward with it.

I’ve learned a lot about creating social change through podcasting since then—and I’m still learning. Below is what I advised new podcasters at DC PodFest 2017 to keep in mind if they wanted to use the medium to make a difference in the lives of others.

Five key takeaways

  1. Work to reach individuals or a smaller group first. Reaching the largest possible group isn’t always realistic. Keep in mind that groups come in all sizes, and they consist of individuals and even smaller groups. You can increase your reach as you build trust and expertise, but start small first.
  2. Make it easy for someone to find what they need. Your project can empower a group of people who otherwise lack access to power. A podcast can help them identify resources, collect and preserve knowledge, and build community in ways they may not be able to on their own. Gather the things someone would need to solve a problem in one place.
  3. Use this mission statement exercise to identify the problem or solution you want to approach, who would benefit (and would listen to a podcast), and what that group would need to make a change.
  4. Be a communicator, not a broadcaster. Ask people what they need, then respond to those needs with your podcast. Don’t just tell people what you think they should need—that won’t empower anyone new.
  5. If you’re willing to start with what you have, be persistent, and listen to your target group for needs you can help them address, then you can make social change happen with a podcast.

Video recap

Here’s a recap I recorded if you missed the presentation (or would like to watch it again). See the description on YouTube for timestamps.


The two items I used during the session:

Slidedeck image/photo credits

1, 6, 7, 11, 12, 18. Background: Listen – Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)
3. Image modified from Burke CROP Walk, with point icons from Font Awesome 5 Pro Solid
4. Left: Hyde Park, Memorial Pond – Alex Proimos (CC BY-NC 2.0); Right: Absolutely Populated London – ČTK
5. Icons: Font Awesome 5 Pro Solid; Brain – Marek Polakovic (CC BY 3.0)
9. Model: StyleHub Daily
10. Photo: PxHere (CC0 1.0)
13. Background: Cathedral Grove – Sang Trinh (CC BY 2.0)
14. Image: Nerdy Minds Magazine
15. Chart: Based on analysis by Josh Morgan
16. Images: Christmas Tree Santas
17. Left: Los Angeles Times; Right: Kyle Mercury (used with permission)