Sept. 22, 2021 The Division of Human Resources & Equity is now called the Division of People Strategy, Equity & Culture.

Clear, confident communication: How you can excel at your job and in life

Speech and leadership at U of T’s Toastmasters Club

Register for tickets to SALUT’s Open House on September 21, 2016

Participants in a leadership workshopImagine you’re in a meeting with senior administrators. Typically, you may not take an active role in these situations, but this time you’re concerned that the quickly moving discussion is heading towards consensus around an option you know has a significant flaw. The discussion is lively and eye contact alone isn’t going to get you air time, so you interject abruptly as the current speaker takes a breath.

Anticipating this type of situation, you joined Speech & Leadership at U of T‘s Toastmasters Club (SALUT) three months ago — an on-campus group for staff-appointed employees who want to improve their communication and leadership skills in a supportive environment.

Everyone turns to look at you. You’d better make this good. You straighten, and as you begin to speak you make eye contact with your colleagues.

“This proposal needs to be reworked. The processes we’re suggesting conflict with the protocol set out by the Provost’s Office.”

Fluidly and concisely you summarize the key problem points.

“I had totally forgotten about the Provost’s directive. You’re right. We can’t possibly follow this strategy,” says the chair, who had been pushing hard for the option under consideration.

Common communication and leadership challenges like this come along regularly. How confidently and articulately you handle them can make a significant difference to how you perform in both your personal and professional life.

How comfortable are you with the following?

  • Actively participating in meetings and conference calls
  • Presenting to colleagues
  • Being interviewed or interviewing others
  • Chairing or giving remarks at a formal meeting
  • Inspiring others with your vision and perspective
  • Leading others to accomplish larger goals

Toastmasters provides a structured curriculum and a supportive environment in which to develop essential skills. It’s a secure place to take risks, allowing you to expand your confidence in your abilities.

Members learn from each other, but the pace and focus are entirely self-directed. You progress as quickly as you want or as slowly as you need. This freedom and flexibility are a great advantage of the program — you’re encouraged to set goals and put a timeline against them, even if your schedule only permits long-term planning.

If you’re interested in improving your communication and leadership skills and excelling personally and professionally, visit a SALUT Toastmasters meeting to see how it all works.

Email our VP Memberships at to join us as a guest.

More details are available on the SALUT website and Toastmaster’s interactive online module.

Photo credit: Jason Krygier-Baum