The need for the integration of generic skills training into structured PhD programmes is widely accepted. However, effective integration of such training requires flexible delivery mechanisms which facilitate self-paced and independent learning. A video recording was made of an eminent speaker delivering a 1-h live presentation to a group of 15 first-year science and engineering PhD research students. The topic of the presentation was inter-disciplinary professional communication skills. Following the presentation, the video recording was post-processed into seven alternative podcast formats. These podcast formats included a typed transcription, a full audio recording, a full video recording, presentation slides with embedded speech etc. The choice of podcast formats was based on ease-of-production by a typical computer-literate academic and ease-of-use by a typical computer-literate student. At a subsequent session, the seven podcast formats were shown to the 15 students and a survey to assess their reactions to the various formats was carried out. The survey results (quantitative and qualitative) were analysed to provide useful insight into the student preferences in relation to podcast formats. The students expressed a clear preference for summary key-point slides with explanatory voice-over by the original speaker. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.