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.