Unlocking Transformation: Communication Skills for Personal and Professional Growth

Monique Russell, the dynamic force behind Clear Communications Coach, joins me to talk about the importance of communications skills in modern marketers.

The dynamic Monique Russell joins me to talk about the wide world of Communication Skills.

As a dynamic speaker and communications expert, Monique’s passion lies in centering and uplifting her audience, making them the stars of the show. Join us as we delve into the world of effective communication and discover how Monique helps others transform and improve their own communication skills.

Communication skills have always been vital for a professional career, and training in those skills seems to be lacking. We both train professional adults, and find that simple communication, persuasion, and presentation skills are more critical – and in need- than ever before. We agree on this: If you are looking for one thing that will transform you and launch your career, look for communication skills training!

Monique’s methods blend learning science principles with personal experiences to help individuals overcome obstacles in the learning process and deliver authentic and genuine presentations.

Here are 3 key takeaways from our conversation: 

Transform Your Communication Game: Communication is all about centering and uplifting your audience. By becoming the star of the show, you can bring joy to others by helping them improve their communication skills and connect authentically. Remember, it’s not just about telling, but also showing and practicing what you teach!

Embrace Diversity & Connection: In our increasingly interconnected world, appreciating diversity is crucial for effective collaboration. Understanding different communication styles, navigating intercultural communication, and seeking to learn and understand one another can foster teamwork and build stronger relationships. Let’s break down barriers and create meaningful connections!

Feedback, The Gift of Growth: Constructive feedback is a powerful tool for personal and professional development. Creating a culture of giving and receiving feedback is essential for growth and improvement. Be curious, ask questions, and embrace feedback with an open mind. Let’s strive for continuous improvement and become better communicators together!

So grab your favorite coffee mug and join us as we uncover the secrets to effective communication!


Unlocking Transformation: Communication Skills for Personal and Professional Growth

Matt: Well, hello, and welcome to another edition of the Endless Coffee Cup Podcast. As always, I’m your host, Matt Bailey. In my quest to find new interesting and amazing guests, I have run across Monique Russell.

And Monique, it just so happens is another member of the Marketing Podcast Network. So if you haven’t checked out the network and the amazing other podcasts that are on it, I suggest you do so. Before you do that, however, I would appreciate it if you finish the episode and Monique. Hey, thank you so much for joining me today.

Monique: Hey, Matt, listen, I am so excited to chat with you. Very rarely do I have the chance to speak with another communications expert, so can’t wait to dive into all the juicy stuff.

Matt: Absolutely. Well, and listener, you’ve probably figured out why Monique’s here communications. My background is in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Monique, I know your background is in communications. Tell us a little bit about your communications background and how it led to teaching communications to professional adults.

Monique: Background as well as broadcast journalism. So I think we’re supposed to have a show or something. Well, this is the show, right?

Matt: I think I so yeah.

Monique: I studied broadcast journalism, wanted to be on TV, and wanted to cover all the investigative stories of what people were saying and not saying and all that good jazz.

But I grew up in the beautiful islands of the Bahamas and I left the Bahamas at 17 and shot it off to cold Minnesota and that’s where my college journey began.

After the broadcast journalism, I continued on and did graduate programs in public relations and advertising. I didn’t land the dream jobs that I wanted. I had a catch-22 22 and I ended up working in a corporate environment, supporting executives. It was my way to get in the door and I’m like, okay, well, I’m going to be some big shot in the communications corporate space.

Yeah, that didn’t happen either. And so during that journey of support and leaders in the corporate spaces, in technology and healthcare. I observed a lot of things. I observed what made the leaders tick, what made them, be respected in the workplace. And because bubbly person, they would often come to me for advice on how to present themselves more effectively, how to connect with their employees, et cetera, which kind of spilled into what I am doing today. What I started was freelancing, and that was probably in about 2008 ish when I freelanced and I was playing around.

I had my side hustle. I was, speaking and teaching and training and communications. Worked at the university for over seven years teaching communications courses. Then I became an SME, a subject matter expert rewriting courses for schools like Southern New Hampshire University, which was, ahead of its time before, all the online digital courses. Now what I’m doing today is helping people to communicate more effectively at work and at home.

What I do, I help the leaders keep their top talent engaged. Because Matt, let me tell you right now so many people are being enticed by entrepreneurship, especially top talent.

And keeping them engaged is about fulfillment. It is about flexibility, it’s really about helping them to get that upward mobility. So I teach the leaders how to connect, how to motivate, how to understand different communication styles, how to delegate, and then of course, around the intercultural communication spaces.

Matt: That is an amazing history. So a couple of things jumped out to me and number one was you observed. That jumped out to me that you spent time like you said, you got your foot in the door and you watched. And as much as we talk about communication as a skill, I think people with communication, when you spend that time watching and observing.

That enables you to put things into practice in your brain, that you’re understanding here’s what works. Here’s what doesn’t work. And you’re seeing it in practice. That observation skill is so critical to then being effective in communications that really jumped out to me that you noted that specifically.

Monique: Definitely observe and absorb. I mean, and it starts from childhood. I tell parents all the time. Listen, you can tell your kid to do what I say, but they’re going to do what you do. They’re going to watch you. And that’s the same thing in leadership. When we are talking about modeling leaders need to model what they want their team members to do.

So observing absorbing. Yes. I watched those executives. leadership. I said hey, they’re getting coaching, I’m an executive. I’m going to hire my own coaches too. Wait a minute, they’re going to conferences. I’m going to conferences too. So literally I observed and absorbed and I implemented.

Matt: Amazing. That is so cool. So cool. You’re doing this full-time. You are teaching people communication methods. And I am one of those that, I see where I use what I learned in communications literally every day. And I wonder sometimes, you’re seeing people who have come to a point in their life where they realize I’m missing this.

Is that most of those who come to your conference or to your teaching or people who recognize that I’m missing a major part of a skill set that enables me to move on, to become successful, to take that next step?

Monique: Yeah, but it doesn’t sound like, Hey, I’m missing this. It sounds like I want to become more confident. It sounds like I need to get this tension out of my team, or it sounds like I don’t even know how to tell my story, or how I differentiate myself in the marketplace.

So rarely are they saying, hey, this is missing and I know what’s missing and I know what I need and how you’re going to help me get it.

It’s just a feeling of something that they feel that they need more of and then we get deeper into what exactly that means because I say confidence, it’s so general. I say better communication in general, just working with someone the other day was like, I want to have a better executive presence.

Okay, great. So what does that mean to you? So, yeah. That’s who I get to work with. And I love working with folks who really want to get better. Before I used to focus more on thinking that I could save the world, Matt.

And I am helping everybody who has a communication problem. And that got old pretty quickly. And so now I am just really focused on those folks who are in that category of being self-led, self-driven.

They may be afraid to have someone really critically examine them, but they’re not going to let that fear stop them from reaching out and leaning in.

Matt: I love how you presented there’s usually not that awareness, but it’s a desire to get better. It’s a desire to do something new because I found even when I’m teaching digital marketing or teaching analytics or anything like that. Even teaching link building, I’m teaching communication, I’m teaching basic communication skills.

I often wonder why is this not a part of the regular curriculum and I love how you said both at work and at home communication is essential with other humans. And yet we’re not really properly taught it. Are we?

Monique: Yeah.

Matt: I was passing that over to you. Yeah.

Monique: Yeah, no problem. I’m taking the cup, man. You hitting the tennis ball, the net, it’s over the net. I’m about to return it, Matt.

Matt: All right. All right.

Monique: So here’s what I think. When I worked at the university, and I actually, worked at over 5 different universities, right? Some public, some private, but I also volunteered in my kid’s schools and I can’t tell you how many hours I volunteered. I also sat on the board of 1 of those schools that help them with strategies on engaging parents, et cetera. So when I looked at the curriculum, you go to college, we both have this communications background. So for both of us, we’ve had more communications courses than the average individual, because this was our focus and our discipline. And even still with that amount of knowledge and learning there isn’t a whole lot that goes into the self-awareness. It’s more on the tactical pieces of maybe how to get a story written, how to, modulate your voice and speak nice and loud and clear, and, all the different tactical pieces, and with all of that experience that I had, I still didn’t have that self-awareness until I really dived deeper into coaching. So your question around okay, why isn’t it there? The things that are there are really tactical, but I think the pieces we want to incorporate are stemming from psychology and stemming from sociology.

I look at the elementary school level and there’s a curriculum called the expeditionary learning model. And I really love that model because I feel like those are the pieces of communication skills that are often missing.

The expeditionary learning model, I can’t remember all the tenets of it, but I can tell you there is success and failure thinking about success and failure. There’s courage and mastery.

There’s our natural world, which is how we connect to our natural world. All of these different things influence the communication skills that we want to have as individuals. Once we’re done with college and, in the workforce.

But now people are struggling with just even some of those basics, and I don’t know why it’s not included in most places, but from what I’ve seen, the expeditionary learning model is an excellent framework, so it’s already there. It’s a present. It’s about having the instructors and teachers truly understand the curriculum tenants.

And model and build it into their day-to-day. My mom’s a teacher and I can tell you, I have a lot of teachers in my family and dealing with 20 to 30 kids and their parents and the administrative requirements and their own personal life. Sometimes all those things don’t really get to be deeply taught or entrenched or involved. So it’s a partnership. It’s a partnership between the parent and a partnership between the teacher.

Matt: I couldn’t agree with that more. Absolutely parents are just as responsible but I love, your focus on that entrepreneurial drive that people have. And even some friends of mine that specialized in university, I’m thinking of one in particular who, he went the doctor route and then he went into private practice, but then he confides in me, he says, you know what, they never taught us how to run a business.

How to grow a business, how to communicate with offers, how to deal with billing. He says, they never taught us any of that. They just prepared us to go diagnose, but never to run a proper business.

And so that got into asking some other friends of mine who have gone into business in different areas and talking to a friend of mine who had an auto body shop and he’s yeah, I just knew how to fix cars. That’s, and I hung out a sign he says all that marketing stuff. I had to learn it.

And so it’s just so interesting that, so many of the skills that, I think we take it for granted, but yet they’re in demand for anyone who wants to hang out a sign and start something.

There’s a big mountain to climb when you start thinking about all of the communication marketing skills that you’re going to have to figure out very quickly in order to get where you want to go.

Monique: Yeah. My gosh. Oh, my grandfather, this happened to him. He was a very successful business owner. He only actually went to sixth-grade education and he was very successful in building the country really, but in terms of learning or knowing how to run the business and all the different things that are required some areas, he was great at, and some areas he was not.

And we have this as well. No one is going to be perfect or well, versed or has the strength and all the things that are required to run a business, which is why we have to outsource and we have to get help and we have to get experts if we want to know how to do this thing successfully.

Yeah, we can’t, do it all. We shouldn’t do it all. So many touch points are there. And even for those of us, like I said, who have much more depth and experience in the science of communications. We still need that support too.

Matt: Absolutely. Absolutely do. I think we were just talking about before the call how important it is to have people around you who are hungry, that are wanting to learn, who you can teach, but who also can support you in so many ways. Having that support is critical.

Monique: And it’s hard to find sometimes.

Matt: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I know what you’re saying. Absolutely. So tell me about some of your workshops. How do you run the workshop? How do you impart this I would call it self-discovery. Because you can’t make someone learn. You’ve got to help them discover that in themselves.

How do you make that happen?

Monique: Yeah. Two things primarily. One, I use learning science, and two, I use my personal experience and observations. So the really good thing about what I’m able to do is look at where someone might be struggling in that learning process, and then help them to overcome that obstacle through like really illuminating it for them, not telling them.

There are some things that you have to do and you tell them, but to have behavioral change, you want to help them illuminate for themselves. It is that they’re challenged with or where they’re stuck. So I’ll talk about the workshop in terms of the design, and then I’ll talk about some of the outcomes.

In terms of design, I’m focusing on learning science, which is using Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy is all about, setting objectives. You know this because this is what we do.

And it’s so funny, I’m working on a project right now for a government organization, which I cannot name. And basically, we’re really starting from ground zero. We’re looking at the objectives and how can we set these objectives so that they can be measured more effectively. It just helps us to focus on the what, the how, and then what we expect or how we are going to deliver the content.

So for example, I’m going to say, Matt, we are going to talk about introduction to doing a podcast interview. Let’s just say that’s the topic. And then what are we going to do in that first session? We’re going to identify all the technical tools we need to use for a successful interview, how are we going to do that? Okay. We’re going to look at the camera.

We’re going to look at the microphone. We’re going to look at the lighting. So all of those things, when we come back to that objective of identifying the tools, we can test that person who’s going through that process to say, hey, did they have the lighting? Did they do the lighting correctly?

Did they have the microphone correctly, et cetera? I know I’m talking to the choir, but maybe someone in the audience, this will be new.

Matt: I’ve got a cheat sheet in front of me here. And so if there is a test, I have the answers in front of me because I still can’t remember to get the lighting. But I think I started one interview and my microphone was way off to the side. I had forgotten to move it in front of my mouth. So even the best of us, Monique, we’re still trying to get around it.

Monique: We’re all in this together. I tell you, Matt. So yeah, but so learning science, and then I’m not a fan of eight-hour learning days. It’s boring. It’s tiring. Learners are gonna forget 80% of what they learn within 48 hours or more. It just continues to decrease. So I recommend four hours or less.

That’s what I do for my workshops, and I make sure that it’s interactive. I help them to set a learning goal or objective at the beginning. And then I make sure that they are able to evaluate themselves afterward. So 90% of participants that go through our programs are able to apply what they’ve learned immediately and then from our coaches, our coaching clients, they increase their confidence by 30%. They increase their personal well-being by 20%. And when it comes to presentation, delivery, and effectiveness, they increase their delivery and their ability to tell stories by 75%.

So this is what we have observed. This is basically how we package, design, prepare, and wrap up the workshop so that the learner can have a more rewarding experience.

Matt: Absolutely. And I love how you put those numbers out there.

Monique: I know you the data king.

Matt: Yeah, well you’re showing there are measurable results. I’m finding more and more, especially in the training realm or anything like that. There are a lot of people who will show up and talk for eight hours.

But where’s the measurable result and you just laid it out there? And that goes back to you here’s what I want to achieve. Well, how do I prove we achieve that? And I don’t think that happens enough in training, especially in communications training, It is a soft fuzzy subject, but you put some hard numbers on that. That’s impressive.

Monique: Yeah, Thank you.

Matt: Oh, you’re very welcome. And it really comes out of an experience I had probably about 15 years ago where I was asked to come in and train and the question was, okay, how do you know it worked? I’m sitting there going, that’s a good question. Cause I told him how it worked.

Monique: And they still didn’t get it.

Matt: That took me from just regurgitating information to learning what you just went through is setting objectives, clear objectives, because otherwise, you get this long list of, well, they should know this, they should know this, they should know this, they should know, they should know this.

And I don’t think enough people challenge that list of a hundred things that this is what people need to know. And it needs to be challenged why. Why do they need to know that? And how’s it going to impact their job? When you start asking questions like that, all of a sudden that list of 200 things goes down to about 25 and then you apply Bloom’s Taxonomy. I love that.

Monique: He said challenge it.

Matt: Oh, as soon as I found that, I was, I’m like, this is amazing. This is transformative. When you start looking at how to phrase questions.

Monique: Yes.

Matt: How much of communication is learning how to ask questions?

Monique: Oh. Well, I would say half of it. I’d say half. The other half is listening. So you could ask the question all day long. So I have a customer that I’m working with and one of the things that is a challenge is instead of listening to actually they feel that every time they’re talking to someone, they have to find a way to disprove what they’re saying, or to not but show that they know a little bit more than what that person is saying. So the listening piece, you laughing because you had a similar experience.

Matt: I didn’t hear you because I’m formulating an argument.

Monique: Stop!

Matt: You know exactly who those people are because of the eyes, there’s nothing going on there. You can see the wheels turning, but they’re not listening.

Monique: Yeah, that’s the thing. So just, I think that piece comes from the self-awareness too, though, Matt, cause if I’m with you and I’m talking to you and I’m not really thinking about how I’m going to look smart, sound smart, be smart. I’m really just listening. I want to know, I want to be curious. That’s the investigative journalist in me.

That’s okay, what are you really saying? Okay, he said this, but what’s he not saying? Let me see, where can I press a little bit more? And that’s interesting. Tell me a little bit more about that. It’s really getting curious, without judgment.

Matt: Okay. Absolutely. That, oh man, you, you hit it there being curious without judgment. If more people had the attitude, I think we would be so much better off. Because it is genuinely asking questions to learn. And the more I understand, maybe I’ll understand what you’re saying or how you’re going about it.

I might have a little bit of distrust or uncertainty like you talked about, but I want to explore that to confirm or to understand a little bit more. And that’s one of those things about, think the whole communication skills. You learn obstacles. In communication, such as formulating while someone’s talking.

So you’re not really listening to what they’re saying. And a couple of other things. So one of the things I absolutely loved about communications and communications theory was the logical fallacies of how to spot when someone, the red herring, the straw man, those types of things, and being able to spot those in conversation enables you.

I’m that personality. It’s ah, Gotcha. Now I know what you’re doing and it’s not fair. And not that I’m out to dismantle it, but helps you synthesize what’s going on when you understand, Oh, they’re using this kind of argument and they’re going to make a leap of logic here.

That doesn’t really fit, and can either call them on it or you can walk through it with them. But that’s one of the ways I feel like communication really just prepares you for so much that life is going to throw at you.

Monique: Yeah, man. So I was in the debate club when I was in high school and I love debate because it really helps you to formulate. I think that’s what we need in the schools. We need debate classes and debate clubs so that people can critically think through their arguments into positions and defend or be able to put themselves in the other person’s shoes.

So I feel like that’s a critical skill that’s needed. But to your point, absolutely. When we’re thinking about the other person’s arguments or trying to disprove them, I think we have to get comfortable in discomfort and again, it’s what prevents us from communication effectiveness is a lot of that internal noise.

There’s external noise, but the internal noise how am I coming across even when someone’s presenting and I’m thinking, it’s all about me. I’m all about my head. I’m afraid to be judged. Well, if we can get into that deeper self-awareness of why do I need to be right? maybe I am not right.

Where did my thought or understanding of this come from? And is it complete? Some people are not, they’re not comfortable in the discomfort and that’s what communication effectiveness requires. I read a study with the Project Management Institute and there are 3 or 3 to 4 cultures within organizational teams, right?

A minimum of 3 to 4 and we’re multinational. We’re global. We’re all this good stuff. So to have an expectation that you’re not going to have communication, misunderstandings, or communication problems. I think the expectation is where we fail. We fail because we have an expectation that it’s supposed to be perfect.

We’re all supposed to hold hands and sing Kumbaya and get along. And that’s where we fail with the wrong expectation. But if we say, look. We have so much greatness in our team, and so much diversity in our team. We’re going to have some differences. Let’s learn about each other so we can actually, come together and collaborate more effectively. I think that’s where we’re failing.

Matt: That is an interesting human view of things that I’ve read before that we expect things to go perfectly. When they rarely, if ever do, and so we’re completely unprepared because I don’t know what it is that goes on in the psyche. We just expect it to work and rather than expect, oh, we’re going to have to work at this.

It’s really strange. However, I was saying that to my wife the other day and she said no, I expect things are going to go sideways. All the time. And maybe it’s a personality thing, I don’t know. But I think most of us just tend to believe that when there are problems, that’s unusual. Rather than, no, problems are around us all the time. There are always issues that need to be solved. There are always things we need to be working on.

Monique: Yeah. I think I love this question so much, this comment because it’s we set ourselves up to fail when we have expectations that conflict or disagreement. Disagreement, I would say, means that something’s wrong if everybody around you is telling you how wonderful you are, what a great leader you are, you know how you have the best ideas.

For me as a leader, I just finished a six-month, coaching program with three coaches that were looking and examining everything, my leadership, the way I show up and I was so hungry for it because I want to have that genuine feedback. The other part of communication skills is people feeling okay to give constructive and critical feedback because they don’t know how that person is going to receive it.

They don’t know how they’re going to feel. Ooh, I feel like I shouldn’t tell Matt he has something in his teeth. Like it’s gonna, he’s going to look at me. You don’t have anything in your teeth, Matt. Okay?

Matt: Okay.

Monique: They’re thinking always about them, but for me, I want someone to be honest with me to say, look, this doesn’t work right now. I have someone editing some chapters that I’m writing. And every time I look on the Google doc and I see how she’s no this doesn’t make sense. According to who, like, how are you going to support this? I’m like, yes, because how can I make it better if I don’t have it? I don’t know if it’s a broadcast journalism background, because, I had a short stint as a reporter and as an editor, You’re submitting your story to the senior editor and they’re coming and marking that thing back up. And so maybe certain industries or job opportunities already have this constructive feedback built in but for the majority of people, it’s not there. And you tend to feel afraid to give that feedback or receive the feedback.

Matt: Oh, absolutely. I don’t know. You just have to look at social media to see how thin-skinned people are right now. However, also I think that people trying to give the feedback aren’t giving it in the most positive way. What you described, putting yourself through a rigorous evaluation to learn more.

There are not many people that would do that would put themselves through that. I think the fear, is what you described, that people criticize me, but it’s to build you, it’s to help you develop, it’s to help you communicate more effectively, to be more genuine, like you were saying.

But that’s not something I think people, they’re not going to line up for. You’ve got to be at a certain level when you’re ready to do that.

Monique: Well there are some I ain’t ready for critical feedback for. Don’t get it twisted Matt, I ain’t there yet. Okay. So

Matt: It’s just the communications.

Monique: Yeah. Leadership, sales, and stuff like that, but there are some things it’s not, I really want to be under the microscope yet. Or if I do, you got to deliver it. Tell me it’s straight, but wrap it with some nice sweetener. Okay. Cause if, especially if this is a delicate wound area for me, I need it to be delivered so that I can digest it. Yeah.

I love it because I’ve had scenarios where I’ve worked with individuals and they’ve given me feedback and I’m like. Really? You didn’t find anything else. Everything was great. And then I’d go somewhere and then I’d have someone give me all these other things that I miss. And then I feel bad about the person who gave me nothing. It’s hey, why would you not give me good feedback? Do you want me to fail? Yeah.

Matt: Well, it’s either that or they didn’t see it, and that gets to another issue as well as their ability to evaluate.

Monique: Ooh, that’s good Matt. That’s good.

Matt: Hey, it’s not always, it’s not always a failure.

Yeah. I’ve noticed that it’s there are certain people who are good at evaluation. There are others that are not, but to bring this down to another level, you and I both teach people how to present.

We both teach people how to stand in front of a room, a crowd, or a decision-maker and talk. And I like to joke that, you look at what people’s biggest fears are. And like snakes and being buried alive are in the top five and public speaking. And that blows my mind that people would rather be like buried alive with snakes than do public speaking.

But yet it’s so critical to success. It’s critical to a career. I think people know that, but there is just that fear and it gets to what you were talking about. It’s, that overwhelming self that is afraid. I think it’s that self-talk that goes on in your brain while you’re talking or while you’re presenting, that just eats away that doubt, like you said, you’re teaching confidence because without that confidence, I’ve seen it just consume people before they even opened their mouths, they’re already beaten up and defeated and they’ve done it to themselves.

Monique: Yeah. And, oh gosh, I don’t know, but I feel it’s connected to the internal self-awareness piece, right? The emotional intelligence piece. You can be great at your competence, which is technicality of the speaking. Competence and confidence are totally different. Because you can have people who deliver amazingly on stage, but then that internal chatter…

Or as soon as they get off, they feel like crap. And so I like to blend the internal and the external so that there’s greater alignment and there’s a feeling of more authentic and genuine presentation versus I’m just on this stage to, perform. It is a performance.

But when you’re in your head and you’re just really thinking all about everybody’s looking at me and they’re having all of these negative thoughts. People are afraid to go and speak in front of a group, but the truth is they want you to succeed. Most people you’re doing something that, they would be deathly afraid of doing and they want you to do well. They want you to give them good information.

They want you to be able to deliver a presentation that helps them feel better about themselves, not just better about you, but better about themselves. So if you put that frame of mind. And you’re like, all right, how can I deliver in the best way possible for them? How can, I transfer… It’s like you’re going on stage and just a guide you’re teaching them, but the body’s going to have natural nervous energy.

I get it. I get it. Even before I get on the show, like talking to you, so it’s like channeling the energy, but then you get there and it’s wow. You’ve done it. You don’t feel like you have to come across a certain way. If you don’t know, you don’t know, you’re genuine. You don’t have to be robotic. And I think that’s what creates a lot of stress for people because they feel they have to be something or be someone else in order to deliver value to their audience.

Matt: I love that, your audience wants you to succeed. They want to be entertained, wowed, or just informed. They desire that. I don’t think any audience really wants anyone to fail. And an audience doesn’t want to be bored for eight hours either. It’s interesting because I think this is unfair to people that present well when you do present something and you present it well, how you present it has such a great impact on your credibility.

I’ve seen people who say absolutely silly things, but because they say it so well, it sounds so good. But if you’re looking at it objectively, you’re like, wait, that made no sense at all. But that, presentation. And you said it like acting, it’s in front of the camera and they are magic, even though there is no substance at all. It’s almost like this unfair advantage because that credibility of a great sound, and a great appearance just irons over so many things. And yet there are so many people who have something really good to say. They’re not going to be completely dynamic about it. that’s just a frustration of it.

Monique: I love what you’re saying because I feel it too. I’m like, Oh my goodness, why are they on the stage? Why are they on this webinar? Please. Thank you. We could get this on Google or Sesame Street or whatever. Okay. So don’t. Matt, you bringing something out of me here and I don’t know what it is. Okay.

Matt: I love it. I love it.

Monique: But yeah, you’re so right. So I don’t know if it’s an unfair advantage. It is what it is because it’s like marketing. How many times have we seen extremely great marketing and consistent posting? The images are like creme de la creme. Everything looks so great. And then you get into an engagement, an opportunity, and it’s well, where’s the substance?

It’s really something I could Google or ask ChatGPT. So it’s like with any industry, there’s going to be portions of skill development which all relate to marketing perception. That will give you an advantage. And so you’re right. You will have, you’ll have an advantage. I don’t know if it’s unfair, but you’ll have an advantage.

And so it makes sense for you to work on it, to deliver great value in it, to learn how you can, pull some of those pieces of that skill set to make sure that you are not only just delivering from an external view, but also that internally you’re delivering substance.

Matt: Very good. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s something I think anyone can do. You can learn and you can continue to grow get better and learn to present. It’s just like any other type of skill just for some people. I think it’s a bigger hurdle to start than others. One of my things is teaching people how to turn data into better presentations. Because sitting in a data presentation is terrible and long and boring and it’s charts and graphs. How do you make that dynamic? And that’s what I try to work people with. And they are off the charts, intelligent people.

But getting back to what you talked about earlier, they’ve not learned how people learn. They’ve not learned, this is what we need to get out of this. Here’s the bottom line. Here’s what the C-suite needs to know. Here’s what I’m recommending. And instead of packaging it into a very bite-sized, here’s what’s going to happen. By the way, if you want the rationale, I’ve got it here. It’s just that ability to package what you want to say. That becomes a good formula that anyone can use.

Monique: Your work is so amazing, Matt because everybody needs to know how to let the data tell the story. Seriously, everybody needs to know it. And I don’t know. If you’re so rigid that, it has to be the data number charts person, then it could hold you back from getting the result that you want for your audience. And so what you’re doing, teaching people how to do that is crucial.

And I don’t know what came to mind when you were talking was this concept that was like three. I don’t even remember what it’s called, but I remember that we talked about this in the elementary schools with the students, and it’s taking that concept or taking the data and connecting it in 3 ways.

Like a text. What can you connect it to that’s existing in another text? And then it’s a text to self and it’s how does this connect to me personally? Like, how can I use that to now begin to make a relevant connection and then text to your outer world, your environment? How does this connect to, the world around you? Maybe what’s happening in your business, what’s happening in your team, et cetera, and using those as starting points to begin to tell the story or begin to expand from a storytelling perspective.

Matt: What you’re describing is the old classical education model. I love it.

Monique: Yeah, I don’t remember what it was, but I just remember this.

Those are the three in reading and literature. Yeah.

Matt: And that’s for everything is how do I first acquire, read, learn, whatever, and then synthesize it to relate to myself and then to relate to others in presentation or connection. These are the three steps of the classical learning model. It has everything to do with internalizing it so that you can apply it.

But then also how would you relate this concept to somebody else? And when you start early doing that, it helps you with that consideration of how would someone else see this. How would they consider it? How effectively can I communicate it? And be understood, that the communication model when it’s built into education, I think is so important. That’s exactly what you described and it’s exciting to see that happening.

Monique: You know what we know what is an issue that I am hearing a lot of is in writing, so that’s on the reading side, the storytelling side, but I am hearing a lot of folks in corporate organizations they’re struggling with people who may not be as clear in their writing or in their emails and, a lot of jargon, maybe, not clear sentences, et cetera. From a communication standpoint, I think that’s also something we have to consider because we’re doing emails pretty much 90% of the week.

Matt: So I have shared this with educators. I’ve gotten this from other business owners as well. When I’m hiring all I look for is written and verbal communication skills. That’s all I look for. I don’t care what your degree’s in. If you can write me a competent email, if you can leave a good voicemail message, and if you can text, that’s what I’m evaluating.

I’m evaluating your ability to communicate what you want, and what you think clearly, concisely, and plainly in multiple types of media. If you can do that. Here’s my thinking. I can put you in front of a client. I can put you in front of a partner. I can put you in front of anybody and I can trust you’re going to communicate.

I’ll teach you what to communicate. I’ll teach you the business. I want someone who can communicate first. And when I’m talking to educators about this, they’re shaking their heads going. Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly. That’s what we need to be. And I’m begging them that’s who we need in the business world.

That’s who we’re looking for. And so those skills getting to that writing aspect that not just the speaking, but the writing is still so critically important. I mean, emails not going away.

Monique: So when you’re doing that, do you see that a lot of people tend to struggle with those types of, assessments? Like, when you’re evaluating their communication written and verbal in different forms? Do you notice that a lot of people are struggling?

Matt: I don’t think they realize I’m assessing their communication skills. I’m asking them questions and I’m seeing how they answer. I’m asking them to write a couple paragraphs about something or I’m even just plain evaluating how they wrote me an email approached the interview or applied for the job.

Those are some of the most important emails and phone calls you will ever make in your career. And so if you haven’t edited, if you haven’t considered how you’re going to come across when you write a certain way, you’re gonna, hold yourself back. And I’m typically evaluating the things they don’t think about. I’m barely looking at the resume or the CV. I’m barely looking at that.

Monique: That’s interesting. I’m so curious about that. That’s really a good approach too.

Matt: It really gets into how you present yourself. And that’s what communications, I think a lot of it enables you to do. But I want to get back because like you told me I’m doing important work with the analytics. You’re doing important work on your website.

I was looking at some of your videos and some of the things that people were saying after they were at your workshop. They are at the top of the world at the conclusion. How did you get them to that point? How do you get them to when they are just like Monique is the most amazing person?

You give them confidence.

Monique: It’s not even about me though. It’s great when they talk about, feeling that way. And I think they feel that way because of how I center them. They’re the stars of the show. They are the celebrities and because I really get a kick out of it.

So this is, for me, this is really fun and exciting to be able to help someone transform or improve their communication and get results from it. Not just lecturing, not just telling. There’s a place for telling, but I am really about the transformative work where they can see what I’m teaching, they can feel what I’m teaching, and then they put it into practice and they’re like, whoa That actually, that moved the needle.

And even if they don’t see the direct outcome, they’re aware now enough to recognize that they’re in that journey or in that process. Just really being myself and sharing authentic stories. I don’t come across or try to put on as though I know everything because who does nobody does that. And those are the things that foster connection, and it fosters people feeling great about you and feeling great about themselves.

That’s the biggest thing. How do they feel about themselves when they’re done with your workshop? Do they feel like, Oh, my God, I’m never going to get this? Oh, this is too hard or, I came into this workshop or I came into this class and all I have now is an overwhelming overload that can also lead to frustration where people say, well, that was not a good class or it just wasn’t for me.

You’ll hear people say, oh, it just wasn’t me. Not me in my class. I’m talking about in general it wasn’t for me.

Taking those things into consideration and allowing space and time for processing in the class is what will help to reduce some of those areas of challenge. But yeah, I love what I do. I love teaching and training and speaking and coaching.

Matt: What has been probably, your favorite person or your favorite transformation that happened in one of your sessions?

Monique: Oh, so there’s a lady who I was working with for presentation skills development. And when we first started, that was the goal, right? That was the goal. I’m here to work on my presentation skills, but during the process of us working together, she wasn’t really showing up in the best way possible, but I didn’t throw in the towel.

I, quickly observed what was going on. It was in the tactical pieces that needed to happen. It was really more than internal awareness, setting boundaries, like doing what you say you want to do. You want to do this, but you’re not really showing up. So it was me holding that mirror up to her. And even when we were finished initially she didn’t really feel, proud of herself

initially, but I already knew based on what we were doing, how the transformation was, and how those seeds were being planted. Most of the people that tend to work with me, I will tell you within six months after it all clicks. It all comes together and those are the best emails and phone calls that I get six months later, a year later,

You see your transformation while we’re working together, but again, behavioral change, if we’re looking for behavioral sustainable change, we need at least six months or longer in order for those habits and those new neuropathways to take place. So with this transformation, I got the best communication and it was like, oh, my gosh I didn’t even realize, all of the things that you were working on with me and what we were doing.

And the fact that she said, now, I don’t ever see myself going back there. The brain was opened. And even if she wanted to put that back closed to where it was before she couldn’t. And for me, that was the greatest feeling for her to be able to see that for it to take root and be, sustainable because I will tell you when you’re working with individuals who are challenged in that area as a coach, as a leader, it’s not an easy process. It’s not. And you have to really suspend all your disbeliefs, your judgment to just hold that space. So it’s not easy, but it was definitely worth it. So I will never forget that.

Matt: That is amazing. That self-awareness that you were talking about, is what really you developed. And I can see that. I don’t want to go back there. Such a self-aware statement of recognizing behaviors or attitudes or ways of thinking that, you I never want that again. I don’t want that for myself to be able to recognize it. And that’s where it came from training that, recognition is powerful. That is amazing.

Monique: Oh yeah. yeah.

Matt: Love to hear stuff like that. Love it.


Me too. Me too.

Matt: All right, now we’re going to have some fun. What is a lesson from communications that you learned in university that you probably use more than anything else?

Monique: Something I learned at the university.

Matt: It’s something you learn from your communications education, that you just, it’s always there. Always there.

Monique: Well, I wouldn’t say from the university piece, but I would say in the coaching programs that I attended afterward. It was really around self-compassion. The most effective skill, I would say is that without self-compassion you hold yourself back and I was able to release perfectionism and adopt the whole mindset of done is better than perfect. So perfectionism being released the act of self-compassion that’s something that I use every day and I teach people to do it.

Matt: That is awesome. Actually just came up in a conversation earlier in the week and it’s come up a couple of times that getting it done is more important than getting it perfect and knowing when to stop. That perfectionism can kill creativity, can kill your motivation, can kill so many things. And so that is amazing that you brought that up. That is and it’s a hard lesson to learn. It is a hard lesson.

Monique: Trying to tell you Matt like this right here, like the technical stuff. Yes. I use them all day, every day. My broadcast class was amazing. We had a vocal coach that came in and worked with us and There’s so much that I use in my communication. I do it every single day, but the compassion piece, the self-compassion, was not at the university. It was in the coaching program.

Matt: Yeah, I get that because that wouldn’t be a part of it. That’s more, strategic and not tactical and you’ve got to get that in some other sources than just from education. So I can see where that fits in. I can see where that fits in. Mine came from sales training.

Monique: In university?

Matt: No, I did sales training before I went to university,

Monique: Smart cookie, look at you.

Matt: I’m not a smart cookie. My dad told me I had a gap. I had a gap between high school and university, and my dad told me to go get sales training and I’m like, dad, I don’t wanna be a salesperson. He’s I’ll pay for it. Okay, I’ll do it.

Monique: What method? What method?

Matt: Sandler

Monique: Sandler!

Matt: Sandler. Yeah, I loved it. And because you just get things in your brain don’t muddy the water, and listen more than talk and it, all those things. And it just keeps coming back throughout the day. Those little mantras will just pop up when they’re needed and it center you again okay, settle down, figure this out, and don’t muddy the water. Whoever talks the most loses. It’s kind of hard in a podcast, but yeah.

Monique: This is so perfect for the audience. Your audience is going to love this episode, Matt. Okay.

Matt: Oh, yeah.

Monique: I’m going to have my kids do that Sandler training. Yes.

Matt: Absolutely. I looked for it because I would love to take it again now. 30 years later and just to get that refresher, but also now with that life experience, understanding where more of that comes from, because it translates into everything. Gets back to what you were talking about earlier.

it’s business, it’s work and home. And it’s not just the self-compassion, but it’s the compassion for who you’re listening to. These are the words they’re saying, but what are they wanting? What’s the intent behind it? And that’s good marketing.

But it’s also that. I want to have that compassion for that person that I care enough to know and try and find out what you really are, what you want, what are you trying to say. And I know you might be using these words, but I want to hear what you’re saying. And that, training, I think really helped that. Come about that, just a better communicator all around.

Monique: I love it. I love it. I had one little stint with a Sandler experience during the pandemic when one of my colleagues was putting it on virtual and I think I went to like maybe four of his sessions to support and it was amazing.

Matt: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I would do it again. I absolutely, because doing that, then going for communications, then getting thrown into numerous sales and marketing roles. It just, it’s one of those things that just never left. Just fantastic. And that’s the thing I did for another Sandler course. When I was in a professional and I was going back and so much of this I learned in school, so much of this I learned in communications, so much of this I learned here and it was cool to see on both sides, pre-university after just how much of it was just classic rhetoric, classic communication, classic things that just never change. And, that’s what I love about communication.

Well, Monique, it has been an absolute joy to have you on. I really appreciate your time. It’s been so enlightening and I think your idea of the, we need to have just a few other communication talks. We’ll pick a subject and go after it, but I would absolutely love to have a few more shows with you because it’s been fun to have you on this podcast.

Monique: Likewise, I love it and it feels so refreshing to have another communications expert to dive into. So thank you for having me on the show, Matt, and I look forward to the next one.

Matt: Anytime, Monique, the door is open, or essentially the camera is on. So thank you so much. And dear listener, thank you for tuning into another edition of the podcast. I look forward to our next cup of coffee time you tune in and we’ll see you soon.

Endless Coffee Cup podcast

Featured Guest:

Monique Russell

Founder, Clear Communications Coach

Monique Russell

Monique Russell teaches global leaders and teams on how to have positive and productive relationships at home and work using effective communications tools and strategies.

Website: https://moniquerussell.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clearcommunicationcoach/

Digital Marketing Training Courses

Learn @ SiteLogic