25 Nov Success Story – Brenda Doran-Higgins

brenda Check out this inspiring story. It’s a real life account of how one person took some skills that actually work and achieved exciting results.



Brenda Doran-Higgins comes from a teaching background. She has taught in a number of New South Wales schools over the past 10 years. Her interest in student wellbeing saw her move into program development and facilitation focussing on supporting the social and emotional health and wellbeing of students. In her current role at the NSW Rural Fire Service, Brenda has been designing key programs targeting schools and primary school aged children.

What is an ESA? Unlike a working service dog, they do not require any specialized training since their therapeutic properties come from their presence, not their actions.

Through collaboration and engagement with NSW Rural Fire Service members using webinar delivery, video conferencing and forum presentations, Brenda has developed programs that will see the NSW Rural Fire Service supporting schools and empowering students to become bush fire and disaster resilient.

What kind of presenting do you do at work?

The way I present in my current role is vastly different to a few years ago. I was a school teacher for a number of years and I presented all the time to students. I had to make changes to my presenting style when I moved to student wellbeing because in that role I needed to deliver content to teachers and school executives. The majority of the presenting I do at the NSW Rural Fire Service is to members in regional NSW using web conferencing technology and I also present at conferences and forums.


What prompted you to attend Michelle’s Presentation Skills Masterclass?

As an Education Consultant at Peer Support Australia, I travelled around the country presenting to teachers and schools. The vast majority of my role involved presenting to adults and it was recommended I attend Michelle’s Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass to enhance my existing skills.

How did Michelle’s program change your attitude to presenting in general?

One thing Michelle made very clear was that the 4Mat model could be adapted to suit any communication situation; either to groups or to individuals. I hadn’t considered this before. I would prepare well for a presentation in front of a large audience, but until attending Michelle’s training I wasn’t using best practice models for my one on one meetings or informal conversations. I started to apply the model more frequently and rehearsing for other

How have your presentation skills improved since Michelle’s training?

After attending the program, I swung into action. The course gave me the confidence to present more often and to larger audiences without flinching. Previously, I had never known where to look and was waving my hands around randomly. I now value the smaller points of presenting such as using the first name of audience members when addressing them, using ‘whites of the eyes’ to connect with the audience and simple hand gestures to reinforce your points.

Each time I present, I focus on one of the thirteen steps and make sure I nail it. This method has worked for me and now I have started back at the top and I am working my way through the steps again. Using the steps in this way allows me stay confident and to have an attainable goal for every presentation.

What were your top 3 take-aways from Michelle’s Masterclass?

  1. Manage objections – if you don’t do it early, it will ruin your presentation at the pivotal point – the end!
  2. It’s not about you – direct your focus onto the audience
  3. Rehearse – I used to be the ‘Queen of Winging it’, it never worked well. I now rehearse anytime and anywhere! Snaps to me! Editor’s note: “Yes Brenda “snaps” to you!


Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-creator of the PRSI (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best selling internationally published author (Wiley), editor of How to Present magazine, producer of Michelle Bowden TV, and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. Sign up for Michelle’s FREE How to Present magazine TODAY http://michellebowden.com.au

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