The increased sophistication of voice-recognition systems, largely propagated by digital voice assistants has created a voice-first world. The way we listen to and search for information, shop, and a whole lot more has changed. It became easier and more convenient, enticing more people to the system. Voice technology is on the rise. In fact, it has been growing in usage for a while now, even though it’s still in its infancy.
What better way to learn and stay up-to-date on industry movements than podcasts that focus on the very thing? As the massively popular voice-first format, podcast is a medium that has deep roots in habits, loyalty, and a continuing opt-in relationship with the audience. Here’s our list of best podcasts that tackle different ideas, developments, and perspectives, discuss all-things voice with interesting guests, and then some.
No voice-oriented podcast list would be credible without The Voicebot Podcast as for many, this is THE voice-first podcast to listen to. Spearheaded by Bret Kinsella, the podcast segment is a part of the larger Voicebot ecosystem that covers relevant news and provides commentary, research, and analysis of voice technology and artificial intelligence, often the result of their own work.
The podcast has a weekly schedule and features a wide variety of guests (sometimes multiple at the same time – a compilation episode, as Kinsella calls it), from the top echelons of C-suite down to developers and evangelists. The bombastic tones from ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ mark the beginning of each episode, usually hour-long where Kinsella’s industry knowledge and extensive marketing background make an interesting and insightful conversation week in and week out.
“Most of my career has focused on the intersection of business strategy and implementing new technologies. Mobile and social brought me into areas where I was focused specifically on how technology was being applied to improve consumer engagement. That resulted in some work in interactive voice on mobile in 2013 as an emerging tool for engaging consumers. When conducting an analysis of Amazon Alexa in early 2016, I recognized that something was happening that reminded me of the early days of the web in the mid-to-late 1990’s when I was leading a B2B eCommerce group working with brands trying to figure out the new platform. So, that experience along with more recent work in voice technology made it a natural fit to help organizations understand how to take advantage of the latest technology platform to emerge. People need information and context when facing a big technology shift. That is what we try to provide the industry.”
Bret Kinsella on how Voicebot came along
As the name suggests, This Week In Voice is a weekly news podcast revolving around the rapidly evolving world of voice technology. It’s hosted by Bradley Metrock, founder of VoiceFirst.FM, a podcast network devoted to voice-first technology that’s home to 11 shows (some of which we’ll mention further down), including This Week In Voice.
Metrock is widely accepted and one of the leaders in the voice technology space, so it shouldn’t be surprising that he’s also the host of Artificial Intelligence and The VoiceFirst Roundtable podcasts, as well as the co-host of The Alexa Podcast. However, This Week In Voice is the main weapon in the arsenal, and unlike The Voicebot Podcast, has a more story-focused presentation. Episodes typically feature a panel of crème de la crème of guests that provide insights on the weekly selection of most interesting voice-related stories – all of that in 50 minutes (give or take a few).
“One thing I can tell you is key is if you’re going to have multiple podcasts, they need to have different cadences. TWIV is obviously weekly and by season, and the others I do are periodic (VoiceFirst Roundtable is roughly monthly, while AI is roughly quarterly). So that makes it easier to manage. Other podcasts such as The Alexa Podcast I’ve put on hiatus, and The Voice of Healthcare I handed off to a friend who works at Harvard / BCH in my place. So I’ve shed a few as well.”
Another VoiceFirst.FM show, VUX World is run by the charismatic Kane Simms. The podcast is labeled as the “the practical voice podcast”, which makes sense considering it focuses largely on strategy and design aspects of the voice technology. As such, the featured guests are predominantly from that background and delve deep into detail on topics such as how to create voice-first experiences, advice and practical lessons on design, development, testing, and so on. If you’re looking for a podcast that stays on top of the latest voice apps and startups, as well as learn a thing or two on the technical side of things, look no further than VUX World.
One interesting aspect of this particular podcast is that Simms is joined by co-host Dustin Coates, a product-oriented software engineer of voice-first apps and voice search, who often interchanges the roles of a co-host and a guest. This adds a slightly different element to the conversation, which is fairly light-hearted and easy going all the way.
“The defining moment that made me start the podcast was seeing an advert for the launch of Alexa in the UK. I immediately thought that it would be amazing if you could actually design those interactions and wanted to learn more. And what better way than to create audio content to learn more about designing these audio interactions. This was actually before I even knew you could. I didn’t know what skills were and couldn’t find anyone to interview about it. So I sat on the idea for 6 months until I could actually find people who have experience in doing this stuff!”
Healthcare is one of the major industries where voice tech is making huge inroads, so it only makes sense to include a podcast that deals with that subject. Voice First Health, run by Teri Fisher, is exactly what you would expect: a podcast that covers the latest developments and breakthroughs in the meshing field of healthcare and voice-first technology.
Expect a lot of talk about improved patient care through developing voice technologies, and a wide range of voice-first health-oriented topics like medical documentation, digital health lawmaking, voice-first devices, and more. Episodes rarely last longer than half an hour and generally feature one expert guest from the healthcare field. Fisher is also the voice behind Alexa in Canada, another great weekly podcast that revolves around Amazon’s digital AI assistant so if you own an Echo or any other Alexa-powered device, make sure you check it out.
“The reason I got into podcasting is because I have a passion for healthcare, education and technology. I see the opportunities for voice first technologies to completely revolutionize healthcare and I want to help with this. The best way to do this is to create a community of interested people and share what we are all learning in this area, and I believe that a podcast (a voicefirst medium) is the best way to do that.”
Hosted by Carl Robinson, Voice Tech Podcast does a great job of presenting the voice tech ecosystem in an informative way. The backbone of the show is the Q&A structure that explores topics on how the technology is operated and applicated, meaning you can hear information regarding NLP, robotics and everything in between.
Working on a monthly/bi-weekly schedule, Robinson is routinely very well prepared and not afraid to discuss even the most technical issues with voice technology professionals during the one-hour episodes. The show will particularly appeal to listeners who want a look ‘below the hood’ and a deeper understanding of the technology.
I prepare for each episode by first asking the guest for some topic ideas, then I think about how these relate to the voice development community. I read about their product and try to use it if possible. I’m a naturally curious person so the more I learn, the more questions arise. I arrange these in a logical order and use that as a loose guide during the conversation. I’m extremely lucky to be involved in an industry full of such inspiring and knowledgeable people – every one of the 25+ guests has been a star, and I’ve only just scratched the surface of what’s going on in voice. Exciting times ahead!
Last but not least, we have Beetle Moment Marketing Podcast, a short weekly show led by Emily Binder that focuses primarily on the marketing side of the voice-first movement. Initially featuring episodes under the five-minute mark, newer episodes typically run twice as long, covering different facets of marketing either through Binder’s commentary or guest-based insights. If you’re looking for a fresh perspective on marketing with usable techniques in a brief (almost flash briefing-like) format, you’ve found it.
“I don’t have the audacity to take up any more of my listeners’ time than absolutely necessary. I also think shorter form audio is the future.”
That concludes our list for the moment. As we discover more great podcasts, we’ll update this list to reflect our findings so make sure to check back often!