Toastmasters – Hastings Morning Talkers

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The Toastmasters Hastings Morning Talkers welcome in 2013 with a new committee. Peter Alley (new President),
Guy Middlebrook and Ian Last explain the benefits they’ve all gained from being members of the group …

Peter Alley, President.

Please introduce us to the new Hastings Morning Talkers committee …

We have George Mills as Education Vice President, assisted in this role by David Edgerley. Pix Jonasson is our Sergeant at Arms. Our Treasurer is Guy Middlebrook; Ian Nettle is our Membership Vice President; and Jenny Broughton is our Vice President of Public Relations.

Why did you originally join the group (and how long have you been a member)?

Hastings Morning Talkers is about one year old, and I was there at the beginning. I wanted to improve my public speaking skills and presentation skills, particularly impromptu speaking. I have always had a fear of public speaking, and it is encouraging to know that I am not on my own.

One of the aims of the Hastings Morning Talkers group is to highlight that ‘learning can be fun too’. How does the group go about achieving this aim?

I really look forward to every second Tuesday morning. There is something surprising and new at every meeting. We are all learning and trying to improve our skills. In so doing, we learn a lot about each other and from each other.

When I joined Toastmasters, I expected to be ‘way outside of my comfort zone’. Surprisingly, I found that a lot of other members were also ‘outside of their comfort zone’ and that we all enjoyed the challenge of being there, confronting these fears and learning ways to be comfortable in this zone, ready for the next zone.

We have a lot of really creative members who constantly challenge us, whether by making us think about a particular word or phrase in the English language, or by making us think about the way that we say things, or just by hearing their speeches, learning from the delivery techniques and benefiting from their knowledge of their chosen topic.


Guy Middlebrook,  Existing Toastmasters Member and Managing Partner for Advantage, Accounting & Business Consultants in Port Macquarie.

How long have you been involved with the Hastings Morning Talkers?

I was invited to join just over 12 months ago. I’m very glad I did.

Fear of public speaking is apparently one of the biggest phobias people can have. How do you think the group helps people overcome this fear?

Yes, I guess many people have a fear of public speaking, and I’m certainly one of those. Even Sir Winston Churchill had a phobia, so we are in good company.

As Vice Captain of Port Macquarie High School, from time-to-time I had to make a speech or two. I’ll never forget being in Year 12 and entering a Lion’s Youth of the Year Competition − I can remember feeling like crawling under a rock when we were asked to do a 3 minute impromptu speech. I think we all have those uncomfortable stories.

Overcoming fear is really all about facing fear head on. By confronting it regularly, we learn to manage our emotions.

Being a regular in a Toastmasters club provides a platform to practice speaking in front of people. Just by undertaking regular minor roles once a fortnight (such as introducing guests) helps people manage their emotions. After a while it becomes easier and, dare I say it, ‘enjoyable’.

What benefits have you personally gained from being a member?

Being a member of Toastmasters has certainly made me confront my nervousness.

I’m not a person who gets energised by being the centre of attention. I’m really a better listener, so speaking in public is never going to come naturally.

Life is not about avoiding things because they make us uncomfortable; otherwise, we don’t grow. Just by ‘doing’ in life means sometimes we have to speak in front of a group.

I have a wife and 3 daughters, so I’m at least up for a few 18th birthday party speeches shortly … and (hopefully much later) a wedding speech or two.

Thanks to Toastmasters every fortnight, public speaking gets a little bit easier.


Ian Last, New Member of Toastmasters and a clinical hypnotherapist at Lasting Results in Port Macquarie.

What (or who) encouraged you to join the Hastings Morning Talkers, and what did you hope to achieve through being a member?

I have wanted to join Toastmasters for some time now, but it was not until I moved to Port Macquarie that I had the chance to become a member.

Public speaking is a skill and like any other skill, practice makes for improvement − especially when receiving valuable feedback from experienced speakers. Hastings Morning Talkers is a great place for this. It’s a supportive environment, where it’s safe to try out what happens to be the number one fear worldwide – public speaking.

How much have you enjoyed being a member so far – and has the group met your expectations?

For me, the best thing about Hastings Morning Talkers is that I never know what to expect. Speeches range from serious to humorous, and the topics are as varied as the people presenting them. I always look forward to our meetings.

My main expectation when joining Toastmasters was to improve my own abilities at public speaking, and the group has certainly met my expectations. The surprise benefit I had not thought of before attending meetings was how much I am learning from listening to others. As we are a varied group, some of the topics have been more than just informative, but eye opening for me.

What are you most looking forward to being a part of Hastings Morning Talkers over the next 12 months?

Just getting up there and doing it. As we have some very accomplished speakers in the group, the feedback or recommendations are of tremendous value for improvement; although, I will admit I am looking forward to the next humorous speaking competition.

The members who are entering competitions obviously ‘try it out’ on their home group first, and we have some very humorous members in our group. Some of our members can’t even do a serious speech without incorporating humour into it.

If people would like more info about Toastmasters and Hastings Morning Talkers in general, how can they find out? 

Please go to our website for any further details, including how to contact us!

or call Peter on 0428 327 525 or Jenny on (02) 6584 2002.

Thanks everyone.

Interview by Jo Atkins.

This article can be found in issue 87 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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