Building presentation and leadership skills for career success in Canada – Café New Canadians

Last updated on March 24th, 2023 at 07:31 am

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Your professional success in Canada is influenced by how you show yourself at networking events, job interviews, and at your company/business. If you’re a newcomer to the country, it’s even more critical that you quickly adjust to workplace communication and culture. Many immigrants join groups like Toastmasters International to fill any gaps in their language, presentation, and leadership skills.

In this Café New Canadians session, I was a guest as a panelist among two fellow Toastmasters, Marcela Chein – Coach and President, Unstoppable Speakers Toastmasters Club and Jaime Gonzalez – Business Analyst & PMP and President, Latin Project Management Network (LPMN).

We discussed our experiences and accomplishments, as well as why we believe that every newcomer may benefit from becoming a member.

Hosted By Shruti Dargan

Thank you for featuring me. You can watch the recording here.


Shruti Dargan  0:01

Hello everyone and welcome to Café new Canadians. Today as you can see on your screens, we’ll be talking about this topic which is building presentation and leadership skills for career success in Canada. This is brought to you by Cafe new Canadians which is actually brought to you by the New Canadians TV Network. We have a National TV show which you can watch on Omni television.

It is the only immigrant focus TV Show in Canada. you can also follow content that is available across the various digital channels. you can follow us on our website and watch our Youtube channel as well.

My name is Shruti Dargan, I am the presenter for today’s session. I am so pleased to welcome three panellists who will be joining us. I can see already that there are people who joined us from Oshawa, Banff, and Toronto. Welcome to all of you. As for the panelist, we have Emanuel Petrescu, Marcela Chein, and Jaime Gonzalez.

All three individuals will have lots to share about their personal journeys and of course as members of Toastmasters club, different ones.

They will be talking about how they have been benefited by being members and how you as a newcomer, if you’re joining, you will also be able to benefit from a lot in various activities.

So, a very warm welcome to all three panellists, and before we dive into a chat with them, let me remind everyone joining that you can ask questions. Our panellist would be happy to answer your live questions. Please post them in the QnA tab on zoom and, if you are watching us on youtube where – we are streaming this webinar, you can also share those questions in the chatbox.

So, very very very warm welcome to everyone joining us. Let’s dive straight into this chat and begin with Marcela. Let’s start with an introduction, this would help the audience joining today to know more about you, the club that you are representing, and are a member of. And a little bit about yourself, when you move to Canada, what your journey has been like? A brief introduction…

Marcela Chein  02:07 

Thank you Shruti, hello everyone, and good evening, good afternoon if you are on the other side of Canada. I am Marcela Chein, I am a Mexican who immigrated to Toronto back in 2013. I am currently the president of a Toastmasters club called Unstoppable Xpeakers and I am a coach as well.

My journey as an immigrant has been really fun, its something that I have enjoyed all along during these nine years living here in another country and that has pushed me to find different ways to reinvent myself, challenge myself, become better, express my ideas, and to actually share what I already know.

So, I really appreciate this opportunity for me to share this experience with all of you.

Shruti Dargan 02:57

We are very happy to have you here with us, next let’s get to Emanuel.

Emanuel Petresco  03:03

Thank you, Shruti! Hi Everyone, my name is Emanuel Petrescu I am from Romania, East Europe, and I came to Canada in late 2016. It’s been a wonderful journey so far since I was here. I am a digital marketer and I specialize in SEO which is Search Engine Optimization, to help small-medium-sized businesses get found on google. I also like to get involved in many volunteering activities including toastmasters. I am a member of the Danforth-Pape Toastmasters club but also the webmaster of District 60 and I usually help with digital marketing stuff.

Shruti Dargan  03:39

Amazing! Jaime, over to you.

Jaime Gonzalez 03:43

Thank you, Shruti! My name is Jaime Gonzalez, I came to Canada back in 2006 from Colombia. I’ve been working for financial institutions in project management, business analysis, and all of the technology components for over 30 years now. In Canada, I have a good career with Scotiabank first and now working for TD.

Besides my professional activities, I have a lot of volunteering things that I really like to see and that’s something that was new for me here in Canada, not that I found opportunities in Colombia but here all over that we have opportunities to volunteer as such and I am the president of LPMN which is a professional organization focused on project management.

LPMN stands for Latin Project Management Network. It is not that only Latin people will be there so everybody is welcome. Project management is not needed to be PMP or working towards PMP but it’s really interested in project management topics related. It is the end that is valid for the organization, the networking component. So that’s why I like to meet new people, talk to new people, and see how we can have networking as an avenue for us to grow.

Shruti Dargan  04:59  

It’s great that you mentioned right away that there are no limitations to being a member and that’s always good to know upfront. So, Jaime, I’ll begin with you actually. You know, you mentioned when you moved but I’d also like to know what those initial days, weeks, or months were like for you.

As a newcomer and I am sure this was way before you actually became a member of the club. What was it like for you, the initial days, you know, were there any differences that you noticed when you move to Canada?

Jaime Gonzalez 05:30 

Yes, a lot. You know, I came to Canada by myself. I left my wife and my two kids back in Columbia when I tried to conquer Canada. I was here with 500 dollars in my pocket and lots of plans, illusions, ideas, and everything. So, the first thing I did was have a non-professional job in staffing – a recruiting company.

So, they were recruiting people every Monday, then what I have to do is to have my safety boots with toe cover with steel. So say okay, I never ever think about that so okay. So, I’m just learning here, was a very hard winter. Okay, so that’s a second challenge.

My English was the third challenge, so I was having a bilingual position back in Citibank but I was dealing with a lot of people in Miami that really don’t have a lot of different accents than mine, and was okay.

So, there was a challenge. So, I started in an organization that was labour-intensive. It was kind of hard for me and being alone was also difficult. But the time was getting by and it was accommodated to that job so then we move to a census of Canada that was more; dealing with people and communicate and then filling this census form and after that, I moved to a call center.

So, it was the first job that I have in an office environment. So, at least I was sitting there and not standing full day and then being really physically tired. So from there and then, I started settling down and getting more comfortable with my English.

Understanding a little bit about the weather and the seasons and how is the environment here in Canada. And almost on my first anniversary here in Canada, I landed a good professional job in Scotiabank: being a manager position for technology components. So, from there then always going up the professional ladder. Very good experience and I really like what I have been building in Canada.

Shruti Dargan 07:46 

Emanuel, coming to you. I’d like to actually ask you, what your initial days were like but if also you could like Jaime shared? Tell us a little bit about your employment journey there. Was digital marketing, something that you did earlier, and how easy or difficult was it to get into it? Did you find a job soon enough? Those are the questions that you know and the struggles for most newcomers. So, we’d like to understand what your journey was like?

Emanuel Petrescu 08:11

Thank you, Shruti for that question. Obviously at first, as any new immigrant will tell you there’s a bit of friction there regardless of what the situation you are actually in. If you come in let’s say with maybe some money or with not – I didn’t come in with many, probably similar to Jaime’s five hundred dollars but considering my five hundred dollars, were in 2016, probably there was a big difference in the purchasing power of them.

I had some digital marketing experience back home but also I worked for the government and I also was an accountant. So when I came to Canada I chose to do digital marketing and focus on this career and I’m considering myself one of the lucky ones because I found in less than six months a job with an agency here from Toronto that offered me the possibility to express myself and share, actually apply the skills I’ve previously accumulated.

Obviously, there’s a big difference between the job market back home and the job market here, with many similarities as well. But I believe the key component is the confidence that you need to gain to actually go and as they say get the job, you know, you need to take it not being offered. You need to go there and take it. So it’s been an interesting journey I’ve had so far. I wouldn’t say it’s been a bad journey but it hasn’t been easy either.

Shruti Dargan  9:46

Marcella coming to you. You know, what is that journey from a newcomer to a coach been like?

Marcela Chein 9:53

Well, it has been interesting because back in Mexico I was a teacher and when I moved to Canada I couldn’t be a teacher because I needed to study again and here in Toronto, at least, what I know it’s a unionized environment and I didn’t have the qualifications to become a teacher. So I needed to reinvent myself. Also back in Mexico, I was a scheduler building schedules for schools and you know it’s like big sudoku playing and organizing people all around.

Little did I know,  that was going to be my career path in Canada. You know something that they gave me as an extra task in one job back in Mexico like oh okay well, you know,  you need to organize these people go ahead, here it became my career. So I needed to build a new career and actually take my skills to rebuild myself so that’s what I did.

I studied human resources so because I understood that my knowledge as a teacher would be transferred as a trainer right. So, with that in mind and then learning about different cultures, that was the thing that impacted me the most. All the cultures, all the differences now the world is, at least here in Toronto, it’s like a small world. So trying to understand all these different communities, and different approaches guided me to study lifestyle coaching. Because I said okay, there’s a common ground which is all of us have the same skills. It doesn’t matter if we are from this background if we are white, black, or yellow, it doesn’t matter. We still have the same experience.

So that has been my path into coaching. Still, I do scheduling and I have been a manager of scheduling departments I have worked for the government of Ontario on scheduling people all around the province. But with this part of being a teacher, a trainer, I needed that connection with people so that’s how I transferred, and also I volunteered a lot.

I was president of a professional network. Now I’m president of my Toastmasters club which is great. Being in this huge international network, people that we are sharing also something else, you know. The passion for public speaking and for becoming better and developing our leadership skills. So that has been my pathway along these nine years, living in Canada.

Shruti Dargan  12:30

Wonderful! Could you also Marcella, I’ll just ask you this. Could you also, you know, briefly explain to our viewers, some of whom may not know exactly what Toastmasters International is, and how, you know, the clubs all across the world? And what is it that one can really achieve through it? So you know, a quick explainer on that. Could I request you for that?

Marcela Chein  12:49  

Yeah, for sure. Toastmasters International, as it says an international organization that focuses on building and developing public speaking and leadership skills. It doesn’t matter the language you speak, there are different clubs, clubs would be a group of people that actually establish and settle a club, and they are aiming to follow the rules of this huge organization, right?

The greatest thing is that instantly, you get a huge network all around the world, because people that are part of these clubs, that you share something with them, which is developing, they’re aiming to develop their public speaking and leadership skills. So in Toronto, well, Emanuel would tell you what, because he’s in inside the district. I’m just the president of our club that belongs to that district. So maybe, Emanuel, if you can help me with that, explain a little bit more.

Emanuel Petrescu  13:48  

In terms of our organization, yes. So it’s divided into areas divisions and districts. And the club level being the one that you first interact with, when you first encounter and try to learn more about the organization, the best thing to do is actually schedule a visit and go in and experience for yourself what’s going on inside the one.

As Marcela said, there are probably way too many things that we can cover only a small portion of what this organization means and what can help everybody but especially newcomers. There might be that thing that they’re missing at the beginning, in order to go and get their job.

Shruti Dargan  14:34  

Jaime, coming to you, you know, you talked about the network part of the organization or if at least your club and project management not being the main concern, or the requirement to enter the club. You talked about networking. So how is it that you as a newcomer, learned about networking or learned about the club? Could you just remember those things and share them with us?

Jaime Gonzalez  14:58  

Yes, absolutely. You know, we, when we landed, here we are basically nobody, nobody knows us. So coming from Columbia, the University I started at is one of the best universities in Colombia. And then in my career, I worked for several banks that are the biggest banks in Colombia. So that was easy to say, I come from this university, I work in this organization, everybody knows. And then I have my big network, and it was easy to move from one organization to another.

So what I see is my network with all of the knowledge I have from the University working environment, and my country is none here in Canada, I have to start from scratch. So what I did is, at that time, everything was in Blackboard. So then I went to English, a second language school. And then I started looking at what opportunities do we have? And there were a lot of us saying, go for conversation circle, go to the library, go to these ways.

So then I started seeing, okay, if there are opportunities out there, I have to look for what are those opportunities and start getting familiar.

So I really get into Toastmasters when I join Scotiabank. And then going into Scotiabank already been in the working environment, there was an ad for having new people joining the club. So it’s another ad on the wall. And then that’s why I said okay, we have to get visible, we have to knock on the door everywhere.

And then with that, I went to that Toastmasters Club – there was a person that the president of the club, was the senior person in the Scotiabank, whose first language was  English and was very proficient in public speaking, in the English, in the grammar, could be a literature professor at a university.

But he was there just helping other people. So that to me was okay, if he’s here with proper English with proper grammar with everything, helping other people.

So okay. Yes, I would say half of the people whose English is the first language and half of the people in the second language. So that’s another challenge we have.

So then, it’s just to knock on the doors, then you’ll have something, not really what you want. And then you’ll find the way going through the different options, different possibilities. And stay alert, and try to grab as much information as you can.

Shruti Dargan  18:14  

You know, through your answer a couple of themes kind of stood out. Networking or professional development, the need to actually help another person, even if there’s no language barrier, or where there is to actually be able to advance in those skills, too. So those are definitely things that you know, the audience today would want to know and how is it that the club or any other organization similar, would be able to help them in all of these different areas? Emanuel, what was it for you that actually took you in the direction of this club?

Emanuel Petrescu  18:48  

I first encountered the Toastmaster organization back home in Romania in 2010  but for whatever reason, I kept postponing actually joining, and then just before the pandemic, a couple of months prior, I decided it was time for me to join. The main drive was because I was an immigrant starting a career here in Canada but I wanted that push, I wanted that extra thing and to give me the confidence to be able to speak in public.

There’s one thing to have a conversation and there is a different thing to have a conversation in the work environment where you need to present certain things in a certain way. And to give an example you need to showcase to your clients the work that you’re doing, improve their overall business, gain more visitors, and more business at the end of the day.

So I started joining the club where I’m VP of PR (vice president of public relations) right now somewhere in late 2019 and start working on my path.

When you join Toastmasters, the organization have a proven educational program called Pathways when you were you chose what you would like to enhance in your skills like presentation mastery, leadership development, and so on, where you think you need more knowledge. You can take a test, and you will figure out if that’s the right path for you, as well.

So for me, my first impulse was to gain more confidence in actually presenting the reports that I have to do on a monthly basis at work.

Shruti Dargan  20:25  

Yeah, Marcela coming to you, you know, you mentioned that you were in a teaching profession earlier. And I would assume that public speaking, therefore, was not a concern for you, or was not something that you know, you found a challenge. But becoming a member of this club, how did you learn? Or what were those specific things that stood out to you about, say, the Canadian workplace, or Canadian culture and things that you were able to kind of adopt, which even someone who maybe has command over the language or isn’t really, doesn’t fear public speaking, can actually imbibe?

Marcela Chein  20:59  

Well, the funny story is that even though I have no issues or problems with public speaking because as you said, being a teacher, I was in front of people all the time. But I needed to learn not to speak all the time, you know, there’s always something to learn. Because for me, I was always the person who knew everything, and that was providing the information.

So there’s also or there was something to learn, which was: let the other speak, be an active listener, you are not the walking encyclopedia, right, that everybody comes to you. And you need to answer all the questions like now it’s your turn to listen. And now it’s your turn to give feedback. And it’s your turn to receive feedback as well. So even though there might be people that are not afraid of standing on a stage, or speaking in an office, meeting, or something, there’s always room to grow.

That was the other point that maybe people when they think about Toastmasters think that oh, no, I don’t want to be a TEDx speaker. I don’t want to be, you know, Tony Robbins, or giving all these conferences? No, it’s for your daily life, it’s for you to understand how you communicate, how you listen, I mean you need to actually answer questions that you’re being asked. So that’s why I’m going to focus on the question.

This was, how Toastmasters has helped me? It helped me to understand my culture better. Because in Spanish, we speak a lot, right? And that’s something that it’s not because only of our culture, is actually the structure of the language, it goes in a spiral, we need to define everything with adjectives. So understanding how language is built, makes you deliver a message in a certain way.

So speaking English, delivering speeches in English under a certain span of time, because now you are being controlled by a Toastmasters Club, you do that? It makes you rewire your brain. Because you need to start understanding the words in English using a different word, a new word, actually, every single week, we learn a new word, that’s our role in our Toastmasters meeting.

And you need to start using that vocabulary. And you need to start building new ways to speak. And it depends if you want it formally if you want it humoristic if you want to coach.

So as you can see, everything that a Toastmasters club can give you will help you be better at any part of your life. It’s not only for employment, but it’s also if you’re a dad or a mom, and you need to actively listen to you know, your kids, or your partner, or whomever actually people in the streets. So communication is a very basic part of human beings. So improving it, should be also part of our daily life.

Shruti Dargan  23:59  

Yeah. And, you know, you mentioned communication, and that’s actually the one thing which a newcomer has to do over and over again, from the time that they land in Canada, whether it’s introducing yourself to a stranger going for groceries and you know, interacting with others, or whether it’s a job interview. So that reminds me of, you know, a conversation I was having with someone earlier, and they were curious to know if Toastmasters can also help with mock interviews or employment interview preparation. Is that the case? Emanuel? Could you maybe just highlight some things that are discussed there?

Emanuel Petrescu  24:36  

Definitely. As I said before, first we start with a Pathway, which is essentially an education program that helps you start and build confidence.

Once you join a Toastmasters club, you are assigned a mentor, somebody with more experience than you who’s been in the organization. You can talk with him regarding what would you like to focus on and how would you like to develop and what you would like to develop is more based on that. And once you’re telling him that, there are ways of structuring and incorporating all these things, including some form of mock interviews as well, into your developing program inside the organization. Plus, the part of the networking as well plays a big role because you get to interact with so many people who can share their experiences and can do these interviews as well on a one-on-one. So there’s an opportunity there.

Shruti Dargan  25:39  

Perfect. Jaime, actually, so something that I wanted to ask you was if you can recollect an anecdote or something from say, a session that comes to your mind, an early session, when you were just joined, you know, what was that introduction, like when you just joined, became a member of the club, where you asked to introduce yourself to basically give our audience an idea of what they can expect early on when they join an organization such as this?

Jaime Gonzalez 26:06  

Yeah, there are several things that we see that in the early stages are going to improve your English. So there was a person talking about ice skating. And because I was doing rollerblades in Colombia, I say, Yeah, I know that but no skates. So ice skating with no skate, so people were just laughing and say, you know, what I mean.

And then I just noticed that a few months after, a few weeks after that, yes, ice skating is one thing, and then skating on a rollerblade is a different thing. Plenty of things like that, that I understand one thing.

And then I have like a hard time, in the beginning, to catch the accent. How the people are using slang, idiomatic expressions, and things like that, that will be difficult to have at the beginning. But then the more that we get involved with these different people, this culture from everywhere, the more that we educate our ears, and then understand the message, not only what is being said, but also what we can see – we learn from Toastmasters that communication is 70% of the message is the body language.

So it’s not only the message that we’re saying, okay, that’s 30% and part of that is the wording that is only basically 10% the other is the tone and how are you approaching, but the body language is basically 70% of the message that you are delivering.

So I remember that at the beginning so I said okay whatever they were saying I didn’t get that and then okay; in Toastmasters, what I really liked it is everyone was supporting and helping and saying no-no, this is that and this is that okay? I didn’t know so I only have a few words in English, I was able to deal with my English because it was basically my working environment. So I know what the system is? how is the process? And what is the result? And basically, the things that are related to the work environment.

But if they are here talking about gardening, sport, hockey, and lots of new topics for me, I have no other words for those topics, and I know the conversation that people have here. So it’s important to get into those specific things that are different from the working environment-related and then get to know the culture, the nuts and bolts of having a daily basis here. So then I understand that oh! the weather is something that is important here.

So in Colombia, I never ever see the weather because sometimes it’s a rainy season, sometimes is a dry season, and then it’s cold or is warm. But yes, business is as usual for us, so there is no real issue. But seeing here everyone has turned the TV on and putting these and then having what is the weather to dress properly. And also that is really important.

And in fact, in the office, the first thing was talking about the weather and then those small talks were about weather and how the weather will be for the next weekend and then when we’ll have a long winter and then plans for the summer. So a lot of things related to that. These are a lot of things that were completely new to me.

And then the way that we adjust to this environment, not only from the labor market but also from the Canadian culture is to embrace that and see that, okay, here we have to be aware of hockey. It’s the Maple Leafs or the Canadians or whatever the team is, that’s something we have to embrace here.

Shruti Dargan  29:54  

So, you highlighted you know how small talk and actually the cultural influences are something or understanding culture here are things that one can really learn well, as part of, you know, Toastmasters.

Emanuel, coming to you, you mentioned early on how presentation and leadership skills are what you were trying to perfect when you joined. And that’s actually the key concern that we’re discussing in today’s session, too. So, remember, like reflecting on your journey, would you be able to share? How is it that you were able to advance or perfect those skills through your association?

Emanuel Petrescu  30:31

Sure, and coming back again to the Pathways, I chose “presentation mastery”, which is the name of the pathway that I haven’t finished yet. So in this path, you will have some specific tasks that you need to do. And starting from your first speech, delivering it, structuring it in a proven working way. You learn all these things, then you move on to telling a different story, conversational level, official level, and so on.

It helped me. There’s also a module where you need to actually use one of these presentation tools, such as Powerpoint, right, that we use on a daily basis.

It’s obviously different when you need to present it in front of an audience and an audience that you’re not already familiar with. So Toastmasters creates a safe environment where you can fail because you can fail and learn in that environment. It is better to fail there than during a client meeting.

But what’s essential in the Toastmaster journey is to be able to be evaluated by your peers. So after we give the presentation, everybody gives you their feedback. And feedback is the most important aspect in my opinion.

Personally, I would have paid money to have people you know, who have more expertise in a certain domain or who have presented more presentations than I would ever probably give me their input based on their knowledge. And also, after seeing me present, they are able to give me specific instructions on where I can improve, where I should work more, and what I did well obviously. So these are, in my opinion, the key elements that you can benefit from.

Shruti Dargan  32:33  

For career success in Canada, Marcella coming to you, would you be able to highlight some of the learnings? I’m sure that there would be similar learnings for the three of you specifically for presentation and leadership skills.

So would you be able to share personal learnings as well as highlights of what is mostly discussed with the viewers today? Some things or pointers may be on? What is it that one should keep in mind when it comes to presentation skills or you know, perfecting the communication or again, leadership skills, building those?

Marcela Chein  33:06  

Yes, for sure. The first thing to learn from Toastmasters. Of course, there are a lot of good things like giving feedback, receiving feedback, speaking every single week, and all that stuff. But it’s knowing yourself.

That is, for me, the best thing that Toastmaster can give you. In my case, I understood how I was communicated because I compared myself with my other peers, right. And I saw whenever I was speaking very fast because that was my issue. Right? As I said, it’s not only people who are shy and they don’t want to speak, it’s also for people that love to speak, but speak too much.

Okay, learning about pauses, breathing, you know, all that stuff that we never analyze, because that’s the way we live. And that’s the way we deliver information and everybody that’s surrounded they are good with that.

But when we want to move to a professional level, when we’re going to share with other cultures as it is here in Canada, right, which is a very diverse society. We need to learn how to deliver those messages in an effective way. So that is the way in which your career will boost right away when you start developing those skills and practicing them on a daily well not daily but weekly basis. Right?

Feedback becomes part of you, like, every single time that someone does something that you do not agree with. You do not get mad anymore, you know, and that’s something that also changes personalities, because it’s like, okay, I need to focus on this is what happened I need to focus on the thing, not on the person.

So I am going to point out the thing that I didn’t like or that needs improvement or that I liked actually, right. So we become better human beings as well.

So if you see, it’s holistic, it’s not just, oh, I speak well, or I have public speaking skills developed or leadership skills, you know, leading another coaching other volunteering as a board officer from specific clubs or as Emanuel part of the district, right, it has different levels.

So, those skills that you will develop, will help you get better. In my case, I can share with you one experience. One is networking, that actually one of the participants this year, he’s part of our club. And because of him, another member of our club landed a job. And because of that person, she recommended me and I landed a job.

So you know, it’s not that we have been working together at a workplace. We know each other because of a Toastmasters Club, and we know how we speak, we have built projects together. And that’s how we can recommend them. Right? You know, I know this person, and I know how this person is because at least you know, some skills that you can recommend.

Not only should he or she is my friend, and that’s why you should hire them. No, no, it’s because we actually can recommend someone because we know that they are investing in themselves, they are becoming better, right. And because we have seen them grow. So that is all the benefits that Toastmasters club can give you.

And it’s not only Toastmasters Club, it’s what you do in that Toastmasters Club, right? Because you can pay the fee and not attend, and you are not going to get the benefits, which happens by the way.

Shruti Dargan  36:38  

So true! So, you know, referrals, recommendations, or even just building the community. All of those, again, sound to be like things that are very, very crucial when it comes to a newcomer who’s just landed. And it’s trying to kind of find a network, not just for professional reasons. But also, you know, finding that community, people who may be able to share their experiences with you.

So, Jaime and Emanuel, I’m opening this to both of you, wherever you would like to take this first if you remember, or if you’d like to highlight from your interaction with others, any anecdote where you know what was able to kind of learn about things in Canada through their interaction with other members or maybe not make some mistakes that others had made, whether it was a settlement, employment, anything?

Jaime Gonzalez  37:25  

Yeah, I can start here, and then Emanuel will continue. The first thing I will say is that Toastmasters is how we build self-esteem. So when we landed here, and then everything is new, from Pearson, anywhere there so we landed in Toronto or in Vancouver, whatever. How we adjusted and then we start having that because I don’t know the language because I don’t know how to deal here in Canada, because I’m new to the country, the seasons, the weather and everything. We started seeing that we are lower lower lower.

So having the option to join Toastmasters, the first thing and I would say the most important thing is to build self-esteem. And now yes, I can do that. So if I’m looking for an opportunity as a project manager, yes, you can do it. If you’re looking for business analysis, if you’re looking for this, absolutely, you can do that. So a lot of opportunities, we say that, yes, I’m looking for a job. What I see with these networking opportunities and networking events, is trying to give first, and then you’ll receive after.

So when we’re here, when I’m looking for a job, everyone is sending that message everywhere, and sometimes is a bit annoying. And then we’re having the opposite reaction. So people will hire you. But then if you are in that desperate mode, is against you. So if you’re thinking that no this is my background, this is what I have this is even my passion and my interest and then say I’m ready to support the organization or support some of our professional association or support whatever, and then that’s my passion. That’s my interest, I can be a volunteer and bring that to you. So then after we can receive and then it’s like having a savings account in the bank. So you cannot make a withdrawal if you haven’t made a deposit. So have a deposit put $200 there you can withdraw 50 the more you deposit the more you can withdraw after. So first give and then you will receive after.

Shruti Dargan  39:44  

Wonderful tip. Emanuel, coming to you.

Emanuel Petrescu  39:48  

It’s hard to come back to add something after what Jaime said but I would say in terms of networking. One thing that the newcomer lacks here is the human connection and relationships. So, aside from the career perspective of networking, you can also develop some beautiful friendships with some members, as I did actually have developed some friendships and we talk outside of the scope of the Toastmasters organization, or we work on any other project.

Another thing that I learned a lot about the Canadian culture through with members, obviously, you’re doing speeches, and many people choose to do speeches on certain topics, and many of them are about Canadian history, Canadian finances, and the way of saving money for coffee is important.

Many newcomers, it was brought up in a recent speech, many newcomers don’t really know what a double-double is, right. In the first couple of weeks, you get to learn and also taste, that’s something you need to discover so you might have a pleasant surprise of learning these inside the club.

And it helps as Jaime said with self-esteem as well because you find people that can relate to your state that haven’t been there, I believe it’s safe to say that close to 50% of all the members in many clubs are new and immigrants to Canada.

So definitely find someone to relate to and to complete something that Marcela has said, in terms of jobs. I’ve changed jobs during the pandemic.

And obviously, there was an interview series process with different people, from the recruiters to managers to HRs, and so on from the same organization. Exclusively all of them, before starting the interview per se, made a note of the fact that I had Toastmasters on my resume and congratulate me and many said, Oh, I always wanted to join, but I never did and I said so did I, for so many years, I postpone it. And I wouldn’t call it a mistake, because right now I’m a member, and I’m happy about it, but I would have joined it sooner rather than later.

Shruti Dargan  42:06  

So it also helps in you know, building that human connection with the HR or building that reputation or you know, having a conversation going besides the formal interview. It’s definitely a conversation starter.

Marcela talking to you, you know, certain things that you mentioned earlier, of course, key elements of communication that you mentioned and things that maybe Emanuel and Jaime have also highlighted are, you know, that connection with another person? I like your views on? What is it specifically about communication skills, not just verbal communication, but nonverbal communication, or maybe gestures, you know, it’s something the body language, how we use it in communication and different cultures, people, newcomers coming from different countries have different cultures wherein, you know, gestures are used differently? What would you like to talk about, specifically about that?

Marcela Chein  43:03

Well, as Jaime said, and this is well known that our body language says more than our words, right, and also the tone of everything, but our body language says a lot of things. And this cultural barrier that we have, with different cultures, even, I’m going to put in an example of my culture, right? That I know that is involved as Latin all the Latin culture, but you know, Jaime is Colombian and he might have some body language that I won’t understand.

But will I take it as an insult or something like that?

So working on our body language with different cultures, I’m telling you, that’s the advantage that we have here in Canada, and more with the pandemic that now our sessions are virtual, that a lot of people can connect from anywhere. We can learn how our body language impacts them, and what is the message that we are sending, for example, I know that I move a lot of my hands, right.

And that’s something that I developed because I had a different kind of learner when I was a teacher, and I needed to catch the attention of these people who would get so boring if I was moving right, like an aesthetic people.

But here in Canada, it’s too much. And that’s a personal example, it’s too much like, Oh, you’re so Latin and I’m like, wait a second. No, that’s the way I speak to grab attention, right? But I never thought about that. Until someone told it to me, so I needed to work on that.

So working on our body language, receiving feedback, positive feedback, and constructive feedback will help us become better and more understanding as well. Different movements, saying, okay, you know, you did this movement again. You told me that you want to get rid of it.

As Emanuel said, having an evaluator for yourself every time you deliver a speech is priceless. Whatever the fee is for Toastmasters. That’s not even, you know, 1% of the value that you receive, by getting information that will help you become better.

So analyzing, working on your public speaking skills, not as an audience, just communicating with another person, and learning all the parts that build communication and improving them will help you become better. Believe me, as Emanuel said, yes, I would have loved to join Toastmasters before, like long before I joined it in 2019 when we actually launched the club, but I think that I should have joined another club before.

I’m happy being a president than having like, like our own club or being a founding member. That’s something that gives me a lot of pride. But I think that I should have taken more advantage of these clubs that were already running in order to learn faster. Yeah, I like avoiding a lot of the learning curve that I had to go through to land different jobs. Because right now, I’m not afraid of any interview, because I know how to sell myself.

Shruti Dargan  46:15  

You know, all three of you have been highlighting various reasons why a newcomer might benefit from being a member. But there’s still some hesitation that one might have, and there are certain things that I’d like to now discuss maybe one by one.

One of those being, you know, Emanuel, you mentioned that early on, you get this network or community of people and so many other immigrants, that could be a point of hesitation for a newcomer who might think that if I need to learn about the Canadian culture, should I really be joining an organization which has so many more other immigrants than actually interacting with people who, you know, Canadian born individuals who will be able to educate me about that? Could we break that myth? Or could you share some tips or reasons why that isn’t the case?

Emanuel Petrescu  47:03  

Sure, I think there are some statistics and some numbers that might tell us otherwise, but I don’t have those at the moment. Nevertheless, it obviously makes sense for one to have that question. But I do believe strongly that the benefits of becoming actually a member and trying to work on yourself. Once you get to experience actually the organization as a guest, you will get a sense that you’re not on the path that you’re after.

Shruti Dargan  47:45  

Canadian culture may not be the only reason why one would want to join, you know, even with immigrants who may have arrived many many years ago, and are now Canadian citizens, we’ll be able to assist them in that knowledge too.

The next point I wanted to actually mention over here was, that all of you joined these organizations or the clubs before the pandemic, but so many other newcomers who are joining who are actually moving to Canada now or have recently moved during the last year and a half, and where everything was virtual, what has that been like? Has the delivery of you know, or your meetings and sessions? How has that been impacted? Or how can one still get the value that they would have gotten in person till we actually reach a stage wherein everything’s back to just in-person activities? Marcela, please.

Marcela Chein  48:33  

Yes, I can answer that. Well, of course, it has been different, right, the way we have been presenting, but at the same time, it’s the way that we’re working right now. So we are developing skills that are actually useful for our daily lives right now. Because everything changed with the pandemic.

I remember when we had classroom sessions, every single time I needed to deliver a speech, I was nervous, I was sweating. And my heart was like beating, no, I’m going to make a mistake. And maybe I’m going to forget the speech or whatever. And virtual meetings, of course, are way different. I can have kind of a prompter, I can read it. But the main benefit that you get is building this, building your speech, speaking yourself out, and trying to get that information in a very structured way so you can deliver it.

That is what I think that has helped us going through the pandemic and also for our mental health, having at least something every week that connected us with people and to see each other growing, for me, it was kind of a lifesaver because I had a very sad year –  as many people in the world, I lost my dad to COVID.

And I didn’t want to do anything, right. But knowing that I had a group of people like that the word counting on me as well to listen to their speeches because they prepare those speeches for us, that’s the thing they’re delivering to us, we are their ears.

So having that, you know, a sense of community helped me. And that’s something that also helped our club. And I’m pretty sure that Emanuel and Jaime can tell you something similar about the recessions. So it’s not just that part, as I said, it’s holistic, that roles that you have because you grow your community, grow your network, and just taking a little bit on that point of saying. Why if a Canadian person is not in the club, how come I’m not going to learn about the Canadians, I think that also our experiences as immigrants and newcomers are very valuable for people that have just moved because we can tell them how it was our pathway, and, you know, shorten their experience a little bit because now they have a network of support.

Jaime Gonzalez  51:26  

And then, if I may, I want to elaborate on what Marcela just said, shortly. Now there are no geographical boundaries. So people can connect from Windsor, Ontario, Quebec, and from outside Canada, even to those events. So back when we have in-person events in LPMN that was downtown Toronto, I was in a bit of an issue for the community and going to the place and the venue. So a lot of issues related to going to that place.

Now that we have online activities, people can connect from everywhere. So that’s something that really adds value. And in fact, this is the, I would say, new way to do things. So moving forward, what we’ll have is a combination between in-person and streaming those events. So right now, yes, we have to have to learn this, I would say the hard way. So do it that way.

But now moving forward will be okay, we’ll have events in downtown Toronto, we’ll have some people attending in person, but we’ll stream that event also for the people that cannot connect, and then the following event could be in Montreal, in Vancouver or everywhere.

And then we have that combination between in-person and online. So that will be the new normal for every single event that we have with networking. Having that combination will be the case.

Shruti Dargan  52:57  

Yeah and Jaime, could you also briefly share, how is it that one can actually choose which club to join? As you mentioned early on, in our discussion, there are professional clubs, or there could be clubs that help you with certain skills, specific employment-related skills, or it could be just hobbies, or it could be you know, cultural development. So what is it? What are certain things that one should keep in mind?

Jaime Gonzalez  53:20  

Yes, absolutely. It’s important to see what do you want to do? So let’s say in the chat we were saying that gardening is important. We see okay, I want to go to a club where gardening is the topic and I want to see what options do we have for the spring and then we will be preparing the soil and then how will be in the summer and in the fall and prepare for the next year. So if gardening is a topic, look for Toastmaster club and they’re looking for gardening options.

Or if you are interested in project management. So I want to go and then start building my creating project management.

So improving my English skills, but focusing on project management. So choose your topic, choose your location. So you want to have something that is going in-person meetings close to your neighborhood or in-person meetings close to your workplace or online activities.

So it’s up to everyone just pick and choose what will be the topic that you want to cover. And if there is nothing easy, you can create a club. So okay, I was looking for a gardening club in Toastmasters, but there is none, not even here not in the States so then I will just go for the process of creating a new Toastmasters Club and then our flavor will be focused on gardening and then we’ll have all the seasons on all the topics and how we have vegetables.

People who have a front yard, backyard, do landscaping, a lot of things related. So then it’s just a matter of creating the club. So, there is no way that we can say, no, there is not an option for me. So look for everything that is your passion, your interests, and what you want to have. And if it’s not there, just go ahead and create one.

Shruti Dargan  55:18  

Well, there’s clearly something for everyone. And if there isn’t, then one can create that. That’s a wonderful note to be actually now concluding with and just for that, I would request all of you to maybe, you know, share that one tip or message that you have for the audience today. And all those who will be watching this recording later. It could be a motivational message, or it could be something that you have summarized earlier, but a message from you on how they can actually benefit from the group or a tip for general life. So let’s start with Marcela.

Marcela Chein  55:55  

Yeah, for sure. Well, my advice would be, start now, if you’re afraid of speaking, afraid of joining a club, just do it, you will see that you will gain more than your fear. It doesn’t matter, at least you practice or you try it. And if you didn’t like it, well, whatever you can leave, but I’m pretty sure that if you join as a guest, just as a guest. I’m not telling you to pay a fee and become a Toastmaster. Just join as a guest.

I’m pretty sure that you will love it, you will like it and you will say you know what I want to develop myself, I want to invest in myself. It’s just an hour, an hour and a half a week. It depends on the clubs, right? And, there are a lot of opportunities for you to become better. That’s actually the tagline of our club. “Be a better U, be UX” which is the Unstoppable Xpeaker. So if you want to join us, just visit our website on 

Thank you!

Shruti Dargan  56:54 

Jaime coming to you. What would you want to add in say about just 30 seconds?

Jaime Gonzalez  57:01  

For me just do networking. Go and look for what is your passion. What is your interest? And what can you bring to the table? That will be the one thing that they will ask you in an interview or when you landed in a job. Go and do networking, looking for your interest, your passion? And what can you offer to others? First, give and then after your receive.

Shruti Dargan  57:27  

Amazing!  Emanuel, last but not least coming to you for your concluding words here.

Emanuel Petrescu  57:33  

So all my fellow Toastmasters said to go in and experiment for yourself, you can join as a guest up to three times to any club essentially in the world right now. I visited during this pandemic clubs from all over the world as a guest.

And it’s been an amazing experience. If you’re from the Toronto area, you can go to and you will find our list of all the clubs there you can try and visit as a guest.

And also we have an upcoming conference for the district on April 30. If you go to, you will see all the details there. But the main idea is to go in and experiment as a guest right for yourself. And I’m confident that you will have a wonderful time.

Shruti Dargan  58:22  

So with that, we’ve come to the end of this session. And I would really like to thank all three of you Jaime, Emanuel, and Marcela, for joining us and for sharing your experiences and for you know, enlightening our audience about the various benefits that they can achieve through being a member.

This was one session of Cafe new Canadians, we talked about presentation and leadership skills. We have lots more sessions like this planned for you. And you can stay in touch with us and learn more about us through our social media, as well as a YouTube channel.

There are various ways that you can stay updated about our upcoming activities and upcoming sessions too. We also have a newsletter, which is a monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to and get information straight in your inbox.

It’s been wonderful having all of you join us for this session and we can only hope that you will be joining later for the next sessions too. Please do let us know what your feedback is for the session. And you can actually mention that in the little quiz that’ll come up for you right after this when you end the session. Thanks once again.


Emanuel Petrescu

Emanuel Petrescu is an accomplished SEO specialist based in Toronto, Canada. He is a digital marketing wizard, offering digital marketing services for more than 10 years, consulting corporate clients, small business owners and other independent professionals enhancing their online presence.
Read Emanuel's full bio

Emanuel Petrescu

Emanuel Petrescu is an accomplished SEO specialist based in Toronto, Canada. He is a digital marketing wizard, offering digital marketing services for more than 10 years, consulting corporate clients, small business owners and other independent professionals enhancing their online presence.
Read Emanuel's full bio