New Member Profile - Marika Carter

Marika Carter

Writer, painter, photographer, nature lover and keen hiker! These are just some of the passions that new Toastmasters member Marika Carter offers, as well as the enthusiasm to develop as a speaker and a leader. Marika only joined Toastmasters in September but has quickly become involved, throwing herself into club roles and taking every opportunity to speak. Marika is currently preparing for her Icebreaker speech but took time out to speak about life, interests and her Toastmasters journey.


What led you to Toastmasters?

I was recently transitioned out of my job and I needed something that would enable me to keep my skills sharp and active. I love the discipline of preparing for the weekly meetings, thinking about my role and how I am going to deliver it. Speaking at Toastmasters in any capacity is a great opportunity to enhance my speaking skills.

So has it helped you in your job search?

Absolutely. It has given me the confidence to talk to strangers and to engage in networking far more effectively than I could before. The table topics has particularly helped me with my impromptu speaking which I have found valuable in interview situations. The ability to speak on your feet and be highly articulate is vital to creating a strong impression and Toastmasters has helped me with that immensely.

What do you see as the main benefits of joining Toastmasters?

Apart from developing my networking skills, it has also helped me to develop my planning skills, particularly when I am preparing for a speaking role. Although it is such a supportive environment, there is a sense of responsibility in not wanting to let anyone down. I have also carried out the role of secretary which requires strong listening and transcribing skills. I am preparing for my 'Icebreaker' speech and looking forward to the challenge of my first prepared speech. I love telling stories and Toastmasters allows me to do that. However, one of the biggest benefits is that while it is a learning environment it really is a lot of fun.

Tell me about Marika Carter – what inspires you?

Being of Finnish descent, I have a great love of nature and the outdoors. Our family grew up with a love of camping. Fortunately my husband shared my passion and as a family we regularly go camping. Part of the experience is to go hiking and get out into the country. Canada has much to offer in that respect. I am also a keen photographer and painter so I guess you could say I have somewhat of an artistic streak in me. My real passion, however, is writing.

Fantastic – what do you write about?

I have written lots of poetry from a personal, intimate perspective that I have shared with friends. My children Emily and Charlie, however, inspired me from a story-telling perspective. Even though they are now teenagers, I decided recently to write children's books. My first book was titled Gremily about a family of Gremlins that learn from a human family that there is more to life than just causing chaos. My latest story is called William the Walleye about a friendly intelligent Walleye that leads a boat to safer waters when a storm breaks. My stories are aimed at older children from five upwards.

Marika if you could spend a day with anyone alive or dead who would it be and why?

I would want to spend a day with Jesus, to find out what he was really like as a person. He is the most inspirational person in history and an example to all of us as to how to conduct our lives. And don't forget he could turn water into wine!

Tell me about a challenge you have faced in life and how you overcame it?

Losing my job was a significant challenge. Suddenly I lost something that brought foundation, stability and balance to my life. I had to adjust quickly and adapt to my changed circumstances. The important thing for me was to stay busy and maintain a sense of purpose. In fact, Toastmasters has been instrumental in doing that because it has helped me to get out there and network; it has provided me with the self discipline to prepare and deliver at meetings, and the confidence to think on my feet and speak well at interviews.

What are your longer term goals in Toastmasters?

My aim is to work through the Competent Communicator Manual. The level and variety of speeches, and the work required in writing, practising and delivering a speech is exciting. I am looking forward to the challenge of doing that. I also love getting involved in Toastmaster projects and this will enhance my leadership skills. Toastmasters is not just about public speaking. It also helps you to develop leadership skills which are integral to the workplace.

What advice would you give to any new members?

The first thing is to get involved as quickly as possible. Take on speaking roles at every opportunity. It's a safe and supportive environment and it's OK to make mistakes. Everyone is here for the same reason, to improve our speaking and leadership skills, and the only way to really do that is by practising. I am preparing for my first Icebreaker speech and yes I am a little nervous, but we have great people who want me to succeed and offer great advice and mentoring. So jump in and JUST DO IT!

Marika thank you for sharing your thoughts. We wish you a long, rewarding and successful Toastmasters career.

Congratulations 2014/2015 GATM Executive

On July 1, the new GATM Executive began their term.  Congratulations to all officers, and best of luck for another successful Glen Abbey Toastmasters season:

President - Srini Kesavan
VP Education - Norkys Crespo / Chris Roode
VP Membership - Ross Cree
VP Public Relations - Paul Dubal
Treasurer - Armando Desousa / Eileen Bonetti
Secretary - Abazar Nezafat
Sergeant At Arms - Sushila Pereira / Sophie Yang
Immediate Past President - Reema Duggal


Toastmaster Meetings

Toastmasters Club Officer Training

This training is for all Toastmasters interested in learning more about how to run clubs.  It is especially for ALL incoming Club Officers. You have your choice of two different dates at two different locations. 

Toastmaster and Product Manager Norkys Crespo

NorkysCrespoIn 2011 I arrived in Oakville, Ontario as a new immigrant. Originally from Venezuela, English was my third language after Spanish and French.

I decided to intensify my learning of the English language through a focused university program. Even though I finished the English program with great marks, I thought something was missing for me. I felt a lack of communication skill and was almost afraid to talk to others.  As a Pharmaceutical Product Manager, I needed to change that.

One day someone mentioned Toastmaster’s and I decided to investigate.  I’m really glad I did, and really glad I joined Glen Abbey Toastmasters in September 2012.

I thought the motivation for people to join Toastmasters was to become better public speakers and communicators by achieving their Competent Communicator designation at the end of 10 speeches. What surprised me was how many people focus on mastering public speaking and taking leadership roles - essentials skills for dealing with people anywhere. I learn a lot from people in our club that have been Toastmasters for over 10 years.

I’m also very happy that the club experience ties closely with my expectations and goals. Since joining Toastmasters, my communication and public speaking skills have improved considerably. It’s also changed my life for the better. At GATM I have found a very supportive environment and a friendly atmosphere. I have met very interesting people. I get powerful feedback each time I deliver a speech or take on a role. I get to take on leadership roles – this past year I was on the Club Executive as Club Secretary. I have a great time at every meeting.

Toastmaster & Author Paul Dubal

PaulDubalAuthorWho Knew?  That here in our membership at Glen Abbey Toastmasters (GATM) is a budding Author with not one, but two books published to date.

That’s right, Paul Dubal, Author of “Crimes against Humanity” and most recently “The Dictator of Britain”, resident of Oakville, and a member of GATM. Paul was recently featured in an article in the Oakville Beaver.

Paul has been a member of GATM since October 2012 and is our current VP of Membership. We interviewed him recently to ask how Toastmasters has helped him as an Author both professionally and personally.

Toastmasters has helped me in so many ways. One of the biggest challenges for an author is to seek an audience for their work and this means a degree of self-promotion. Today this is often carried out in the social media sphere but more often than not means being able to talk about the books.

Gave Me Confidence

I found that the skills I acquired at Toastmasters have been extraordinarily useful in a number of situations. For example when I was conducting a book signing at Chapters, I needed to have the confidence to approach people and ask them if they would like to buy my book. I fully understand that for a customer, buying a book for $20 from a first time author is a risk.  I was able to put my ideas together and provide an eloquent and articulate 'sales pitch' about the book.  I was also able to explain why they would enjoy reading it, which convinced many people to decide to buy.

Put My Ideas In Order

I think it has also helped in social situations when people have asked me what my books are about.  I could spend several hours telling them everything about my books but I suspect they would have fallen asleep or made their excuses and left. The discipline acquired from Toastmasters is that I can put my ideas in order on the spot and provide a summary and key highlights of the book that is short and punchy.  It also gives enough information to generate enough interest for the person to check out the book. That skill is surprisingly difficult to attain, and Toastmasters has been invaluable in that regard.

Enjoy Speaking

Finally, I hope to promote my books further in a number of ways - to do more online / newspaper (and hopefully radio) interviews. The recent interview I did for the Oakville Beaver received a lot of attention so that will be a good model to follow. I would also like to present at book clubs and other places to promote my work.  Toastmasters has given me the confidence to get up in front of any type of audience and speak fluently and confidently and above all, enjoy the experience!!

Paul’s books are available to order in hardback, paperback and in all e-book formats through his website and at most online bookstores.

Paul we wish you great success in your growing career as an author.

2013 / 2014 Season Kickoff and Two Open Houses

Wow, we're starting our 22nd year as a Toastmasters Club in Oakville. It's going to be a great year, and we've set a modest goal to become the best Toastmasters Club in Canada (in the eyes of our members)

We've moved to a new location - a little further north at Holy Trinity Secondary School (near Sixth Line and River Glen).  Please join us for our Open Houses to see what happens at a Toastmasters meeting:

  • Wednesday, September 25, 2013
    7:15 pm - 9:30 pm, or
  • Wednesday, October 2, 2013
    7:15 pm - 9:30 pm

Glen Abbey Toastmasters is a great club - experienced, friendly, supportive, and lots of fun.  Here are 5 Reasons Why You Should Join Glen Abbey Toastmasters, and a few member testimonials that give you an idea of how Glen Abbey Toastmasters has impacted them.

Hope you'll find the time to come out and speak.  By the way, if you're already a great speaker - you'll get immense value at practicing in front of your peers, getting great feedback, and mentoring others who would value your experience. 

Come and visit any time

Reema Duggal, President 2013-2014
Glen Abbey Toastmasters


Glen Abbey Toastmasters

Have questions?  please contact: 

Toastmasters International