Madeline Schwarz is a Strategic Communication Advisor who helps quiet leaders speak up in a world of loud talkers and helps corporate teams articulate their vision in clear, concise messaging. Madeline has worked with clients at organizations such as Etsy, Mastercard, The Jewish Museum, Tommy Hilfiger and JP Morgan.
When she’s not coaching or facilitating workshops, you can find her playing legos with her 7-year old, community organizing, and creating playful ways to make communication more fun.
Learn more at Madeline Schwarz Coaching and download Get Clear on Your Message: 4 Easy Steps to Prep for Any Presentation even when you only have 5 minutes.
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:02] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Coach the Coach radio brought to you by the Business RadioX Ambassador Program, the no cost business development strategy for coaches who want to spend more time serving local business clients and less time selling them. Go to brxambassador.com To learn more. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:33] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Coach the Coach Radio, and this is going to be a fun one today on the show, we have Madeline Schwarz with Madeleine Schwartz coaching. Welcome. How are things going over there in the in your empire, your coaching empire, you’re building to help people communicate more strategically.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:00:54] It’s great I have found that even more people want help communicating during a pandemic.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:01] Now what’s your back story? How did you get involved in kind of this passion of yours around communication?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:01:09] Well, my back story is that I have been telling stories in different mediums for my entire career. I started my career in book publishing where I ran the publicity department of a design book publisher, and I placed authors and books on NPR and in the New York Times and other major media. And from there, I made a career change and I moved into display design, where I design window displays and retail environments for big brands like Armani Exchange, Coach Diesel, Nike and Adidas. And our team was responsible for the first contact with customers and our work determine whether people came into the store. And that’s where I really learned how important it is to be able to get a message across in seconds. And what I also saw is that so many creative people are great at one part of their jobs, their amazing creative problem solvers, but they often struggle to get their ideas across, and that was the downfall of so many projects that I worked on. So when I decided to start a business, that’s the problem that I really wanted to solve.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:28] So now are there some low hanging fruit that folks can do a better job at being a more effective communicator?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:02:34] Absolutely. Just practicing presentations out loud, like doing one run through. If you only have time to do one and going through it, taking the time to save the words out loud and find the words before you walk into that meeting, instead of just flipping through your your deck and saying it in your head can make so much difference in how comfortable and confident you come across in that presentation.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:04] Now is your work kind of focused in certain industries, or is this kind of industry agnostic?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:03:11] I work with people across industries, so on an individual level, I help people get their message across clearly and concisely, whether they are giving a presentation, speaking at a conference or introducing themselves to a room full of strangers. And then on the team side, I really work with teams to help them balance out communication so that they’re not just hearing from the same five people over and over again and missing out on the other ideas that the the team brings to the table when you really hear from everyone.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:48] Now are there are some symptoms for people who are leading teams that maybe they’re just not aware of it. They might think that, Hey, I invited everybody to the room here. So I’ve done my part. I can check that box. I’m being inclusive and I’m including people. But while the discussions going on, like you said, there might only be a handful of people who are actually contributing and other people are just sitting silently. Are there some symptoms for that leader to kind of wake them up a little and say, Hey, you, you think you might be including everybody, but you might be missing some people?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:04:19] Yeah. So there are a few things that it’s so important for leaders to think about. One is how they are running meetings. What are their facilitation skills like? Because often they might throw out a question or pose a problem and say, let’s brainstorm. And while that seems like an innocent enough activity, the way brainstorming is traditionally done in most corporate environments is not an inclusive activity at all, because not everyone is able to process ideas and come up with solutions at the same speed. And so that’s one of those scenarios where you often hear from the same people over and over again and you miss out on the rest of the ideas. And I think it’s so important to remember that 30 to 50 percent of the population are introverts and and people are always astounded. Leaders are often astounded when I share that stat. And so when you think about that, you you need to make sure that you are engaging those people and providing time for those people to also contribute their ideas in a brainstorm. And so some really simple things that you can do is instead of just throwing out a question and everyone or not everyone, the loudest people start throwing up the answers instead pose a question or a problem. Give everyone a minute or two to write down their ideas and then start asking for for group feedback. And the other thing for leaders, too, that’s so important, especially if they are on the more loquacious side, is to really tap into their own listening skills so often people might throw out. A question, but they’re not wait for the answer. And and so listening and being comfortable with silence and allowing time for the team to come up with the answer is another really important skill for leaders.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:23] So I’m hearing you say that listening is really an important component of communicating.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:06:29] Yeah, it’s 50 percent of communication, but I think we treat it like the forgotten stepchild.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:36] So now when you say listening, is it just kind of listening with your ears or is it also listening with your eyes to kind of glean cues from body language? You know, there how focused they are there, you know, line of focus, they’re leaning like, there’s they’re listening. It encompasses more than just hearing, right?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:06:56] It definitely encompasses more than just hearing. And I like to think of it as listening with all of your senses. So you don’t want to just listen for the words coming out of people’s mouths you want to watch for all of the visual cues that you were talking about and all of the things that they are saying or not saying between the lines.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:18] Now in your work, do people you mentioned introverts and extroverts do introverts kind of. Are they self-aware enough to say, Hey, you know, I need some help in this area? Or are they just saying, Oh, well, I’m introvert, this is just my lot in life.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:07:33] So it’s a little bit of both. I do often work with introverts, and when we start our work together, they are often very self-critical and think they are at a disadvantage because they are introverts and that if only they were an extrovert, it would be easier to more effectively communicate their ideas. And one of the things that I do is help them see that it’s just the opposite that introverts have so many powerful skills and can really use their superior listening skills as a competitive advantage in communication. And so I think it’s so important to help people lean into the strengths that they already have instead of trying to emulate a different personality or style.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:21] Now do extroverts ever come to you and say, Hey, you know, I don’t think I’m connecting well with the introverts? Do you have any suggestions?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:08:30] Yes, definitely. So I have one client who I’m thinking of, and while she came to me wanting to work on her presentation skills, one of the other things that we have worked on is her facilitation skills and how to make more space in meetings for other people who might not be as inclined to raise their hand and immediately jump in. And again, this is where. Just making subtle tweaks in your in the way that you’re running, meetings can make a huge difference. So one of the tips that I shared with her and I shared with all of my clients is establishing some community guidelines in meetings can make a huge difference, and one that I really like is one to three and meet. So after you throw out an idea, you need to wait for three more people to speak and and share their ideas before you jump in again. And that’s just a great, really simple way to monitor yourself and give everyone else on the team a way to monitor each other.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:47] Now, do you find that some folks feel like, look, I got a lot of good ideas here, and how can I help this team if I don’t share all my great ideas? So in their head, they’re kind of I don’t know if they’re rationalizing it, but in their head, this makes sense to keep sharing because they got a lot of good ideas.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:10:08] Yes. And that’s where it’s so important for people to pay attention, not only to what they’re saying, but what are they listening to? Because yes, they might have great ideas and they probably have ideas, but they don’t have all the ideas rather, and they’re missing out on all of the great ideas that the rest of their colleagues or teammates or clients have if they don’t listen for them. And I think that comes down to humility to to and courage to be willing to consider that you might not have all the ideas or you might not have the best ideas and that together you and the other people in the room can come up with even better ideas.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:02] Now we’re talking a lot about speaking and presenting. How does this come into play when it comes to maybe networking and especially we’re in this kind of hybrid world where networking isn’t always face to face like it used to be, but maybe it’s on a group Zoom call, like how does an introvert kind of navigate the waters of networking?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:11:25] Yeah. Well, what’s been interesting during the pandemic and I did a survey in the spring was that just about 50 percent of the people who I talked to in this survey, where I surveyed dozens of introverted professionals, about 50 percent have been taking advantage of being on Zoom that they prefer that that they find it more comfortable to be able to network from the comfort of their home. And then the other 50 percent are finding it more challenging or avoiding it like the plague because they think it’s more difficult to be on video and to not have the benefit of body language and being able to. Read the people in a physical room, so I actually designed a five part framework for introverted and anxious networkers called comms. So five really essential skills that can transform your experience and those are curiosity asking questions, listening mindset and stories. And the reason it starts with curiosity is when you approach networking with genuine curiosity about other people as opposed to trying to sell them something. It really allows you to connect on a more personal human level. And when you strategically use curiosity to pique interest, it can also make the whole process easier. And so I, for instance, a number of years ago dropped the New York City all black, all the time dress code and started wearing really colorful prints to networking events.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:13:15] And that might seem counterintuitive. As an introvert, wear something that’s so obviously makes you stand out. But what it does is it invites people to talk to you. And so the first time I did that, I discovered I no longer had to walk up to strangers and start conversations because the conversations came to me. And that’s just one way that you can use curiosity to really make the process of networking easier. And then. You also use it to ask questions, so introverts might get nervous about talking about themselves and be hesitant to quote unquote brag about their accomplishments. But if they use their curiosity to ask better questions at an event again, this is a way to spark conversations and use the process and really connect with other people. And that leads into listening, which I think of as an introvert superpower. But all of those skills really wouldn’t work without mindset. And so I like in mindset to moving the furniture in your brain. So if you’ve ever moved the furniture in your living room, only you can have all of the same pieces. But if you just move the couch, everything looks different. Your entire perspective changes, and that’s what is different about networking and all areas of communication when you change your perspective and how you’re approaching it.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:50] And then when you’re working with folks, there is the usual point of entry that they have a presentation or something big is happening, and they need some help to kind of make sure they get it right. Is that usually how people engage with you for the first time?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:15:06] Yeah, that is often one point of entry. And then another point of entry is leaders who are meeting teams for the first time, who they’ve been promoted to leading a larger team. And either they have self-identified or their managers have identified that communication skills are an area that they need to grow in order to be more confident and be more effective in their roles of leading other people and being able to inspire a team and get them on board to lead a new direction.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:47] Now, do you find that communication is one of those skills where people just take it for granted that they have, you know, pretty decent communication skills, but when you really hold them accountable to it, they really are lacking some some things where a coach could take their communication style and even kind of the trajectory of their career to a new level if they can really level up in this area.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:16:10] Absolutely, because I think what often happens is people get promoted into positions of. Leadership and managing other people, but they don’t necessarily get any training in order to do that. And that if they have reached a certain level in their career, there’s often an assumption that they are also good at certain skills and that’s not the case at all. And so, for instance, like I was brought in to work with this nonprofit research firm and I was working with their team of data scientists. And so the entire team, they all have PhDs, they’re constantly presenting at conferences and speaking on panels. But their ability level was really uneven and some of the people were struggling to. Get their message across clearly and to answer questions without rambling. And so what I did was design a series of workshops to help them tighten up their messaging. Prepare for panels more effectively and use storytelling as a way to make the data come alive. And as a result, it reduced stress and anxiety on the team because everyone had a game plan to prepare for their presentations. It allowed them to use storytelling to really connect the dots between the the research that they were doing on an individual level, the research that the firm was doing on a collective level and how it impacted the end user. And the other amazing thing about facilitated learning is that those discussions that we had in that room allowed them to learn from each other and learn from how their colleagues had handled real life scenarios when they were on panels or moderating panels, and how to navigate those tricky situations that they too might come up against.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:18] Now, when you’re working with folks in this coaching manner, is this something that once they learn a few key tactics or strategies or mindset elements that then they’re kind of good to go for? I mean, I would imagine and once you learn this, then you’ve learned it forever. This is a skill that you’re going to be able to have, you know, forever. It’s not something that requires, Oh, now here’s a new communication skill. So is it like you come in and help kind of triage whatever that challenge is and then you’re available, obviously down the road, but you’re there. Kind of good to go for a while, I would think.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:18:53] Mm hmm. Yeah. So when I work with people, there are really three key areas that I addressed and that is the messaging helping people get crystal clear on their messaging and why it matters to the audience. The second thing we work on is delivery how to make their content and their material engaging to the audience and really how to create an experience for the audience. And then the third thing which is equally important is the mindset and how communication really is a mindset and how you are thinking about communication determines how you give presentations. It determines how you navigate difficult conversations, how you negotiate and how you lead. And those three things together really skyrocket confidence and build people’s professional and leadership presence.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:55] Well, if somebody wants to learn more, get on your calendar. What is the website?
Madeline Schwarz: [00:20:00] Yes. So they can find me at Madeline Schwartz coaching, and they can also connect with me on LinkedIn. And my last name has no teeth. So it is spelled C h w a R Z, right?
Lee Kantor: [00:20:16] That’s Emma de Belin IESE pH WRC coaching.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:20:23] Yes. And if they sign up for my newsletter on my website, I will send them a really, really nifty tool, which is four steps to help you prepare for any presentation, even when you only have five minutes.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:39] Well, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Madeline Schwarz: [00:20:44] Thanks, Lee. It was great to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:46] All right, this is Lee Kantor, we’ll see you next time on Coach the Coach radio.