Audiobooks are all the rage right now, with people of all ages utilizing them for business and pleasure. Commuters love them for how they make the time pass by while you're stuck in traffic or on a train. They also help inform, educate, and help you improve yourself.
In my experience, audiobooks are an excellent method for learning more about almost any subject. However, they seem to encourage multi-tasking, sometimes to the extent that I feel like I'm doing too many things at once.
I have my own issues about how our culture seems to devalue "mono-tasking" in general. I know many people who need to be listening to a book while they're eating breakfast, working out at the gym, or preparing food. I'm not saying this is definitively bad. I'm just wondering whether doing too many things at once may make you enjoy each of those things less.
Millennials especially have grown up with a voracious appetite for content and information that can inform their decisions in work and life. In fact, I would say it's one of the primary ways they are learning about the world. Here are just eight of the reasons why and how millennials are learning through audiobooks:
1. Digital formats for books are preferred these days.
Because we have these mobile devices around us so darn often these days, we're utilizing their audio functions more and more, such as with audiobooks.
"Millennials have grown up with the Internet so they are accustomed to turning to it for information rather than paper formats, especially thanks to e-reader devices," says Angela Lauria, Founder and CEO of The Author Incubator, "In turn, they are adept at using digital formats to get the information they need to propel their learning."
2. Millennials like to do things on their terms.
Audiobooks are something they can select, download, and listen to at their discretion. Rather than take the time to do an entire class or seminar, audiobooks provide a convenient way to pick up additional information that can help them on a professional or personal level. Additionally, there's such a diverse and extensive library of available material now that very specific topics are within easy reach for a targeted area of interest.
3. The material on audiobooks is more digestible.
Millennials have been painted as having short attention spans due to all the digital stimulation they receive. This is seemingly backed up when you see a millennial working on two or three things at once. They may be having a conversation with colleagues in a Slack chat room while coding or writing an email.
Audiobooks fit into this arrangement perfectly because they can take up just a little part of the flexible schedules many millennial employees or entrepreneurs have. I must admit, I too retain more when I listen to things in 10-20 minute chunks.
4. Audiobooks are portable and travel better.
I've often carried books with me and still sometimes do. Even though I'm not a millennial, I'm like them in that the less I have to carry when I travel, the less encumbered I feel. Books tend to be bulky, but audiobooks are files on my smartphone and tablet that I can bring up while on a plane so I can listen and learn on the go. I've talked to many young professionals who claim this helps them learn more than they had before. Personally, I feel audiobooks are helpful for learning new bits of info on interesting subjects as you go through your day, but like with all things, moderation is best. I tend to feel a bit on the overwhelmed side if I spend hours listening to a book while doing other things.
5. Many people retain info from audiobooks more easily
I've talked to millennials who say they hold onto info from audiobooks more effectively than they do when they read books. The usual logic is something along the lines of the focus becoming sharper if a person has to listen to the words in order to take in the information. I'm not saying it's the absolute truth. However, it's perfectly obvious that it works for them, especially when it's in smaller chunks.
6. Millennials work and operate on fast-forward.
We are living in an era when instantaneous results are the norm, and these millennials have come of age during this period. Audiobooks provide a way to listen at a higher speed rate. This has actually become a preferred pace for many millennials and regular books or classroom settings just can't deliver on that speed factor, that more instantaneous result.
As Kevin Systrom of Instagram explained, "If you've got an idea, start today. There's no better time than now to get going. That doesn't mean quit your job and jump into your idea 100 percent from day one, but there's always small progress that can be made to start the movement."
7. Certain book types are more appealing in listening mode.
Because some books lend themselves to listening more, they are more conducive for learning. For example, biographies and subject matter that involves many stories, case studies, or conceptual ideas tend to be more effective in audio format because people often like hearing stories over reading them. It may in fact be a little more wired into our DNA considering that was once the only way stories and information was passed on from one generation to the next.
8. Audio books provide a compelling sensory experience.
All people love engaging information. In fact, they tend to learn more effectively when information is compelling. Audiobooks deliver that inspiration through a compelling sensory experience. Some senses can be more compelling than others. That is the case with listening versus smelling or even seeing for instance. Narrators of audiobooks can leverage emotions and vocal ranges to add more exclamation or dramatic intent to their voices than if a person was to read a book and hear the words in their head. For some people, the greater the sensation, the greater the potential that the learning will be remembered.
So there you have it. Science has confirmed that reading and listening books results in about the same level of comprehension. At this time in history though, we have entire generations of folks who are choosing to put the book down and just listen to what the author has to say. Are people still getting a lot out of what they're listening to? That may depend on how many other things they are doing while listening. As for now, many millennials don't care. They just want to sit back, relax, and listen.