Celeste De Highden
Head of Operations & Business Performance
Melbourne, Australia | Mastering Communication Program Graduate
"I really found I've been able to embed some key tools, and I really relish the uplift in my communication style it has given me."
As the head of Operations and Business Performance at Australia Post, Celeste De Highden isn't new to presentations and meetings. Having benefited from our program nearly 5 years ago, it’s had a lasting impact on her career. When lockdowns were introduced, she decided to redo our program to refresh her skills and translate them to the virtual format and it’s been an incredible support.
Why did you decide to redo the Mastering Communication program 5 years on?
Attending the Mastering Communication program way back in 2015, Celeste says the powerful tools continued to make her more effective in her communication at work.
“I’ve been able to embed some key tools and I really relish the uplift in my communication style that it had given me.”
When lockdowns were enforced during the pandemic, Celeste then had to work and lead a team remotely which came with new challenges.
“I was engaging with my stakeholders remotely and dealing with several vendors in Australia wide and globally. So, the importance of how my messages were getting across via video was high.”
Celeste realised she needed to sharpen some of those tools and techniques she learned with us years ago and refresh her skills to apply them in this new context, so she decided to repeat the program.
What learnings were most helpful the second time around?
“Since undertaking the refresher, I think a few take-outs for me has been around knowing the audience and what’s in it for them and really playing to that in my communication.”
As the entire business world shifted into a new working world, Celeste realised her audience had different wants and needs, which she needed to incorporate into her communication to strengthen her impact in remote meetings and presentations.
“Being really clear on what I want them to hear and take out of my messaging. The other thing is around actually creating the relevance and the credibility and the authority for me.”
Has your confidence improved in different contexts?
Celeste attested to the fact that her confidence has really improved ever since she redid our course. Not just by refreshing her learnings from years ago, but also picking up new skills such as how to adapt her presentation style to be impactful in a video call setting.
“I feel more confident talking to the camera and not looking at my face. And also just really conscious of the gestures and how much it is not just the head we want to look at but it’s really the whole physiology that we really want to take into account.”
How did you find the virtual learning experience?
“I was surprised at how it felt easy and it felt like we were in a physical room able to give each other feedback. Able to interact in small groups as well as the larger group, but I really felt that connection and that ease of quite quickly connecting with the other members.”
Variation and diversity in the classroom makes for a golden experience. The broad scope of professionals from a range of industries on the program with Celeste enriched the experience.
“The diversity and variety of the participants in the course were great. We had not-for-profit, we had some of the banks. So for me, that was a really great benefit.”
When is it a good idea for someone to repeat this course and why?
“It’s always been a course that I’ve remembered fondly and that has influenced my style.”
Celeste believes that our approach to communication is ever evolving as our environment and audiences change through our careers. With this, we must grow and adapt with new tools which continue our growth so we aren’t left behind.
“I think you know it’s one of those things your communication style can always improve and change as the environment and the audience changes.”