A small preview of some of the amazing members we have in District 21


Jennifer Almeida is an essential service broker who became involved with Toastmasters when the club was looking for a venue for immigrants who have English as a second language. She says her group has about 20 members from 16 different countries, hence the name, DiverseCity Toastmasters. Jennifer finds the feedback and evaluations enormously helpful, and says public speaking gets easier with time. She now has a comfortable routine with her speeches, shaking hands with the presenter, and waiting for them to return to the lectern before leaving the front of the room. “Just give it a try before you decide it’s not for you, and visit two or three clubs to nd the one that suits you best. I did exactly that!”


Liang Chen joined Toastmasters to polish his English listening and speaking skills, but soon discovered that the biggest gain was overcoming a fear of public speaking. “Speaking in front of my Toastmasters teammates for the past few years, I have gained more confidence when speaking in front of a crowd. I would never have imagined this happening years ago, when I was still a very shy person.” Liang, who works in information technology, says the club has extended his social network, and given him the ability to talk comfortably to strangers as well as friends. He says there’s fun and excitement at the meetings, and the accomplishment comes naturally.


Garth Coward is a retired communications director with the BC provincial government. During his career he was called upon to give presentations to senior level managers, and joined Toastmasters to gain more confidence in doing so. He has now been a part of his home club, Thunderbird Toastmasters, for 19 years, and says it’s a secure, safe environment for new members to find their voice. One unexpected benefit of joining was becoming a better listener. “Most people are coming up with their reply when others are speaking. Toastmasters teaches you how to listen.” Garth enjoys mentoring new members, and encourages newcomers, particularly those who are shy and inhibited, to experience Toastmasters for themselves.


Tania Ehman, a caterer, put her aspirations of a speaking career on hold to raise her children, and has now reached the stage in her life where she can think about it again. Tania loves public speaking, and says Toastmasters is her favourite night of the week. “The encouragement and support we give each other is great. We laugh a lot, we learn a lot, and we become better together.” Tania is paying it forward in her community, passing on her skills and knowledge to a youth leadership program and a local community school. She encourages everyone to give it a try. “Deciding to join Toastmasters is the all-important first step in becoming the best you can be.”


Jan Ireland originally joined Toastmasters to build self confidence, express her ideas more clearly, and apply for promotions at work. Toastmasters training improved her skills in giving and receiving constructive feedback. This helped her to listen more effectively while expressing her own point of view. As a bonus, she learned how to embrace the unknown. Now retired from work, Jan says her Toastmasters group is like family, with a variety of ages and backgrounds, who are dedicated to self-improvement and supporting one another. She points out that the benefits of Toastmasters are numerous, and vary according to the needs of the individual. “You can work at your own pace and comfort level, and won’t have to speak until you’re ready.”


Caleb Mickelson, unlike many who join Toastmasters, already had a knack for public speaking but wanted to practise and improve. Now he feels energized speaking in front of people, and con dent that he can connect with the audience. Evaluations are an important part of Toastmasters, and Caleb says he has learned how to accept criticism. “I have begun to listen intently to how I can improve and what was missing from my speech. This is so valuable in my personal life, as I now ask for criticism and learn from it.” Caleb says that improving your public speaking skills is worth the price of admission, but the confidence and self-esteem you gain as a by-product is even more valuable.



Layla Mustafa joined Toastmasters to practise the English language and enhance her leadership skills. She says her public speaking is improving with the help of her culturally diverse group, whose members are friendly, cooperative, and mature. Layla recommends the club as a way to become more con dent and gain leadership skills, and as a friendly environment where you can socialize with new people. The skills learned go far beyond the meeting room, however. “I am now implementing new phrases, idioms, and speaking techniques when communicating my ideas in my daily life.”


Mathieu Powell is a digital content marketer and CEO of Real Media Solutions Inc. He first joined Toastmasters when a good friend asked him to be the Master of Ceremonies at his wedding, and now has several hundred successful presentations under his belt. Mathieu says he would not be in the field he’s in today without the training he received from Toastmasters. He is regularly called upon to speak to groups he leads, and Toastmasters has boosted his confidence in everything from selling to launching his own companies. “Joining Toastmasters will be one of the most important decisions of your life. One day, you’ll reminisce about how far it has taken you, and how much more confident you are in doing what you once couldn’t.”


Naji Yazdi is an educator who joined Toastmasters to practise communicating in English without being judged or experiencing serious consequences while he learned. Today he is a confident speaker who will step in front of an audience of any size, with just a few hours to prepare. Naji says that sharing personal stories in a Toastmasters group brings understanding, sympathy and caring, and connects the people in the group in a special way. He uses his Toastmasters skills in his everyday communications, particularly the ability to organize thoughts and ideas, and speak precisely and accurately in a given time. “Invest in growing yourself through Toastmasters. Whatever you earn is for you to keep; whatever you lose – well there’s nothing to lose!”