Interview with Communication Coach, Madeline Schwarz

1) Tell us a little about your business.

I help creative professionals and entrepreneurs articulate their vision and speak like experts. My job is a lot like cooking. I give people a recipe to take all the ideas in their head and put them together in a way that makes sense and tastes good to other people.

My clients come to me when they want to up-level their speaking skills and grow their confidence as a communicator. I help clients prepare for panels, conference presentations, team meetings, and business pitches and I also teach workshops on presentation skills and team communication.

2) I know that you have transitioned from working in corporate to being a full-time entrepreneur. What was that process like?

Yes, people are often curious how I went from window display designer to communication coach. Before I started this business, I spent 15 years in the creative world. I ran the publicity department at a design book publisher and then spent a decade designing and building window displays and brand experiences for multinational brands like Coach, Armani Exchange, Diesel and Luxottica.

In fashion, I learned how to communicate a brand through the windows, how to get a message across in seconds, and how to invite people into the store. With books, I became an expert at communicating their essence in a press release and inviting people to discover another world inside. Now, I help other people communicate their stories and invite audiences into their world.

Starting a business has been fun and scary and exciting, all at the same time. I love being able to use my creativity in new ways, and I’m inspired by seeing my clients transform and their confidence multiply when they give a presentation they never thought was possible.

Being an entrepreneur has required tremendous personal growth and it’s also transformed my life. Running a business requires courage, tenacity and stepping outside my comfort zone every single day. It’s both the hardest and most rewarding job I’ve ever had.

3) What role does image and style play when someone is giving a speech or presentation?

 It’s so important to embrace your personal style when you’re taking center stage –that includes not only your attire but also your unique voice and a presenting style that suits you. Too often people get caught up in the idea that they need to look or sound a certain way in order to be effective. 

You don’t need to be a big performer in order to captivate a room. In fact, I think that listening is one of the most overlooked skills, and introverts make great public speakers because they can really tap into their audience.

The best way to connect is to be yourself. Don’t try to be over polished or you might look like a robot.  Lean on your strengths and remember that your audience isn’t perfect either. 

4) Do you touch on this topic when you are coaching your clients? If so, how do you approach it?

I was teaching a workshop at FIT and someone asked me what they should wear when presenting. I don’t have a specific formula (that’s more your department) but here are a few guidelines.

  • Wear something that makes you feel powerful.
  • Wear clothes that are comfortable (this doesn’t mean causal but you do want to feel good in your clothes when all eyes are on you).
  • Wear something that is appropriate for your audience.
  • If you’re nervous and tend to sweat, wear darker colors.
  • If you’re speaking on a panel, make sure you can comfortably sit in your outfit. 

5) How has your awareness of your own personal style evolved as you transitioned into your role as a full-time speaker and presentation coach?

I define my professional wardrobe with bright colors and bold patterns (think Merimmeko and Pierre Cardin).

I used to wear a lot of black (and still love a good black shirt dress,) but I’ve become bolder in my color choices as I’ve embraced my voice. My go-to looks are dresses or jeans, blazer and boots and I always include something colorful.

Wearing bright and colorful pieces to an event is a great way to stand out. It invites people to talk to you and makes you memorable.

It’s also an integral part of my brand. You see color and pattern in my website and marketing materials and it helps express my playful, creative style.



6) I hired you to work with me one-on-one to help me prepare for a big speaking opportunity. What are some of the other ways that someone can work with you?

I teach a small group class called Speak with Impact, a 5-week immersive experience where you write and practice a presentation in a group and learn how to stop doubting yourself and confidently articulate your vision.

I work with people 1:1 in a program called Craft your Talk which provides guidance on every step of creating your signature talk and delivering it with authority.

And I teach workshops for teams on presentation skills and interpersonal team communication.

7) Where can people find you?

People can connect with Madeline on Linkedin or Instagram.

If you’re giving a presentation and want to be more compelling, get started with 7 Steps to an Engaging Presentation. It walks you through her entire process to write and practice your presentation in 7 easy steps so you can stop procrastinating, stop feeling overwhelmed, and start speaking like an expert!

Have questions? Reach out to Madeline at [email protected].

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