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Can a vacation help you communicate better?

by Madeline Schwarz, Communication Coach and Founder of the B.U,R,S.T. Formula for Communication

If you’re having trouble communicating, take a vacation.

A few years ago I attended HOW Design Live and a piece of advice Emily Cohen gave stuck with me.

“If business is slow, go on vacation.”

It’s a sentiment I’ve applied to many things.

One of the biggest hindrances I see to people confidently communicating is that they think they need to look or sound like someone else.

So if you’re feeling stuck for words, stuck in relationships, or unhappy with your communication, take a vacation!

Take a vacation from who you think you need to be.

Take a break from thinking you’re a terrible communicator or need to be perfect to make a good impression.

Take a weekend getaway from the thoughts that you’re too awkward, shy, or quiet.

Take a vacation from the notion that you need to sound like your boss if you want to be a boss.

Take a siesta from the worries that your content is boring.

Leave all those thoughts behind, pack your bags, and go on vacation.



Because we learn so much when we go on vacation. Over the summer my friend Ara Tucker shared some lessons learned on vacation; in particular how doing things you’re bad at helps build leadership skills needed to lead a team. It got me thinking about how many things are now a consistent part of my life that started as an uncomfortable experience on vacation. For instance, the first time I got in a kayak was in the dark on vacation. My friend and I took a night tour of a bioluminescent bay. I remember thinking it was crazy that the tour gave zero instructions about how to kayak and asked zero questions about our previous kayaking experience. My second time in a kayak was on the same trip to Puerto Rico. My friend and I hired someone to take us snorkeling on the reef. After snorkeling (another vacation activity that I did not master on the first try and still haven’t mastered), we found ourselves paddling, or attempting to paddle, back to shore. We were working very hard against the outgoing tide and our kayak was traveling the wrong direction. We were losing ground and the shore was getting smaller. We knew it was serious when our guide tied our boat to his and towed us in. Had I taken this as a sign that I was terrible at kayaking or incapable of improving, I might never have gotten back in a kayak the 3rd or 4th time. My 3rd time in a kayak involved being towed again on a choppy river in Michigan, not my most fun vacation moment. Turns out the 4th time was a charm. My husband and I were kayaking at the east end of Long Island with our 3-year-old in tow. The woman helping us launch the boat asked if we knew how to kayak. My husband said yes. I said no. She gave us a quick lesson on how to paddle and it made all the difference. I found my rhythm that day. We spent the next 3 hours on the water. We paddled around the bay. We explored pebble beaches you could only reach by boat. I helped steer our boat back to shore through open water. In a single afternoon, my relationship with kayaking changed forever. But only because I was willing to say I didn’t know how to do it. Because I failed and tried again. Because I didn’t swear it off after 3 tries. These same skills allowed me to overcome my fears of public speaking.

  • I raised my hand and admitted I needed help

  • I didn’t give up after the first or second try

  • I kept practicing even when it was hard


If you’re tired of feeling like you’re paddling in rough water every time you open your mouth if you want to stop rambling, rushing through content or retreating every time you have to answer a question, join me next week.

I will be teaching the C.A.L.M.S. Framework to clear, concise communication at my free webinar October 12 at 12pm EST. You’ll learn the 5 skills you need to go from fighting the tide to speaking in flow.

If you’d like more stories, tools and resources to change how you speak, lead, and think about communication, get on the list here.


Madeline Schwarz

Madeline Schwarz

Madeline Schwarz is the founder of the B.U.R.S.T. Formula to communication. She’s helped hundreds of professionals across industries get their message across clearly in meetings, pitches, conference talks, panels, networking and difficult conversations.

What started as a career in window displays developed into a business about communication because as a window display designer, she learned how to get a message across in seconds.

As a book publicist, she crafted stories that grabbed attention and as a project manager, she learned how to tailor her communication to appeal to different audiences.

Madeline has worked with founders to Fortune 500s and her clients include Mastercard, Etsy, the Jewish Museum, Marriott Hotels and Fancy LLC. When she's not dreaming up ways to make communication more fun, you can find her roaming art museums and building forts with her 9-year-old.


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