Becoming More Relevant with the Better Listening Method: The Power of Active and Systemic Listening in Media Organizations with Nanna Holst

In this episode of the Listening Superpower Podcast, we’re joined by Nanna Holst to delve into how the media landscape’s evolution, driven by new platforms, shifting consumption, and AI advancements, is swamping audiences with more information, but not necessarily more insight. We discuss how traditional media must transform, using active listening and engagement to stay pertinent as a bridge between the public and those in authority, as outlined in her insightful report. (Link below)

Nanna Holst is an experienced journalist, editor and project manager with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Making People Reach Their Potential, Co-creation, Public Outreach, News Writing, Breaking News, Video Journalism, Journalism, Editing and Television. She is into teaching and coaching of young journalists, a strong program and project management professional based on constructive, solution based journalism and a strong sense of public service and democratic values. She is a graduate from the Danish National School of Journalism and Aarhus Business School. Also a Fellow from Constructive Institute at Aarhus University, developer of The Better Listening Method and helping news organizations listen better to their audiences. Also she is a keynote speaker.

In this episode, Nanna explores the power of collective intelligence listening. She shares stories and examples of a new initiative called Better Listening for Journalists which engages the community into their journalistic process. By actively listening to and asking for thought-provoking questions, this approach not only strengthens relationships but also promotes better collaboration and a more harmonious society.

“If we want to stay relevant in a world where everybody can be their own media, we have to know what is expected of us and what we can help them with to make everybody wiser and everybody happier and have this unity.”Nanna Holst


01:33 – That moment she noticed the power of listening: I was forced to train my listening skills at a very early age because I’m the little sister in a very talkative family. I had to listen very carefully to know where I can dive into the conversation and get heard.

04:12 – How has her view of listening changed through the years

05:18 – A journalistic way of listening versus listening to understand

06:11 – Establishing a concept program called Better Listening: We want to listen more actively and systematically

08:04 – Finding out the ‘why of listening’ for ‘Better listening’

09:02 – What the whole ‘Ask Us’ method encapsulates

12:04 – The idea of collective intelligence in listening: It starts with the questions, but when we publish an answer, people chip in with their knowledge.

13:07 – Questions that fosters better communication, cooperation, and understanding 

17:26 – Transparency involved in the answers written: If we can’t get a perfect answer, we say, this is as far as we get, but does anybody out there know anything?

18:40 – 4 points that helps Better Listening listen better: Listen first, showing everyday humility, trust in the population, listen up

22:25 – Why listen. Not just for the checklist, but to really understand: You have to find out why you are listening, what do you want to get out of it, and what are your resources.

25:07 – What leaders should know about sustained listening in their organizations

28:11 – The inspiration behind the articles written: We could see that our engagement grew when we found a way to put a question formula and a ballot in each and every article.

30:08 – What has changed in her now doing Better Listening: I have known a little about a lot.

32:35 – Distinguishing between hearing and listening

33:29 – The dream she has for her legacy media in the next five years 

35:36 – How she makes listening sustainable for her: I like to have markers everywhere that reminds me of this huge ‘Why’.

Key Takeaways:

“…You can listen in a thousand ways. It’s like a car that has movable parts. You can just adjust them in many different ways.”Nanna Holst

“Listen first, show everyday humility, trust in the population, and listen up.”Nanna Holst

“…the missing link between wanting to listen and actually listening is some sort of method that keeps us on track, and make us work smart and not do the things that do not work.”Nanna Holst

“Listening is a skill. It’s something that can be trained and we can learn it. “Nanna Holst

“Listen first. Keep focus on the audience. Trust in the population. Constantly learn and improve. These are the keys to better listening.” Nanna Holst


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