2019 Speaking Season is Here!

Monday 2nd September was the first meeting of the year for Chaucer Speakers Club. With our new President, Jo, at the helm, the meeting was steered through an engaging agenda with participation from all.

The main events were the prepared speeches from Thade and Les; their subjects were diverse and fascinating in their own way. Les took on the exploration of the history of homo-sapiens whilst Thade took the audience on a thrilling journey on the back of his new motorbike.

To help our speakers improve, thoughtful analysis and feedback was provided by Will – one of our seasoned speakers – and Ben – one of our newer members.

After a break and a chance to catch up with everyone’s summer adventures it was into the realm of Impromptu Speaking. The session was chaired by Nick who was taking on this role for the first time. Using the idea of ‘future challenges’ as the theme, he gave the members some great topics to get their teeth into; ranging from ‘Virtual Schooling’ to ‘Super bugs’.  

A new element is the award of the Impromptu Cup to the speaker judged to have given the best response. The first winner was Les who had spoken with great humour on the subject of ‘flying cars’.

Les receiving the Impromptu Cup from Nick

It was great to get back into the swing of things after the summer break and I’m already looking forward to the next meeting on the 16th Sept.


2018 Speaking Season Off to a Flying Start!

Monday 17th September 2018

Our first meeting of the new season got off to a flying start, thanks to the contributions of our guests and members, both returning and new.

It was great to see a packed meeting room filled with lots of nervous energy as we had six new faces coming to see what Chaucer Speakers Club is all about.

Chaired by this year’s President, Stewart, the meeting was treated to a new member’s first prepared speech and it was an absolute knock out! Despite some initial nerves, the speaker delivered a touching and personal account of having started life in the UK as a citizen of Nowhere, he has overcome challenges and hurdles to become a proud home owner and bona fide UK citizen: Well done Les! We’re looking forward to hearing more about your fascinating life.

Nerves of a different kind from one of our more experienced speakers, who took on a challenge from the Advanced Manual. Adrian had to choose a speech title from three on offer (which he had not seen before) and then with only 10 minutes preparation, deliver a Show Stopping Speech! He went for “Rugby is less of a sport than Football” and the result was an absolute Grand Slam!

After the break our Vice President, Jo, chaired the Impromptu Speaking session and it was brilliant to see all of our guests rise to the challenge of speaking on a topic without any time to prepare. Her theme was ‘Journeys’ and it was great to see so many would-be nervous public speakers take their first steps on the path towards greater speaking confidence. 

Our next meeting will be on the 1st October and we’ve already got one new member signed up to give a speech. Suzanne will be in the Chair so we’re in for an exciting and energetic meeting. 

See you there!

‘The Art of Preaching’ a presentation by the Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Canon Treasurer of Canterbury Cathedral

Monday saw a special guest attending to present to both members and guests; a fascinating insight based on 20 years’ experience of planning and delivering sermons.

 The Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Canon Treasurer of Canterbury Cathedral spoke about preparing sermons, but his five areas of advice are invaluable for all speakers.

The Context

A sermon is not an ego trip, lecture nor some political manifesto, but it always part of an act of worship: an offering to God. As such the speaker cannot allow anything to detract from that vital purpose.

The Purpose

Canon Papadopulos sees the purpose of a sermon as prophesy (not prophecy – the spurious predictions of the future) but a reflection on what the spirit of God has to say in these current times. This follows the long tradition of Prophets who were readers of their present which they interpreted in the light of what God wanted for that generation.

The Source

The raw material for the sermon is the tradition of the church to which the preacher belongs: at the heart are the Scriptures and a reflection upon the words (as well as the history of the words). Canon Papadopulos will spend a week reflecting upon the words: ‘a journey from the head to the heart’. He is also able to bring his training as a barrister to help interrogate the meaning of the words.

The Connection

Having chosen the text, Canon Papadopulos will look for a thread which can run through the sermon – akin to the motif which might run through a musical composition. ‘Avoid Gimmicks’ was a key piece of advice as it may detract from the purpose of the sermon. 

The Self

A sermon is not an opportunity for personal therapy; not an excuse to show off ones knowledge of the Bible; not to make the congregation’s worship of God harder because of distractions. ‘Integrity, not indulgence’ was the lesson. Authenticity is also important: speak as the person you are and be true to yourself.


We would like to express our sincere thanks to Nicholas for taking the time to speak to our Club, and we wish him all the very best in his new role as Dean of Salisbury Cathedral.


“Chaucer Speakers helped enormously” Jo’s Story

“Six months ago I joined Chaucer Speakers Club because I wanted to become a more confident, relaxed speaker. I had heard about the club from the Best Man at our wedding: he had been nervous about his speech so he went to get support from attending the fortnightly meetings.

My reason for joining was I knew I had an important presentation in six months’ time and wanted the chance to practice as well as get some feedback and support.

I was a little nervous about coming along to the club, but the welcome was warm. I was even more nervous about delivering an ‘impromptu’ speech which is part of the regular meetings but I told myself if I didn’t give it a go now I’d be panicking about it even more next time. Since then I find the challenge of creating a 3 minute ‘mini-speech’ gets a little easier each time.

I was also able to practice delivering my presentation to an audience who was able to give constructive feedback: one of the more experienced members also provided one-to-one mentoring which really helped with my confidence.

I’m pleased to say the presentation went extremely well! It was delivered to an audience of about sixty people – something I would have struggled with had it not been for the opportunity to practice. My presentation was judged ‘Most Feasible Project’ with great feedback from the audience.

The support I received from Chaucer Speakers Club helped me get my breathing under control and to feel more confident: there is still room for improvement but I can already see the difference from where I was when I started.”


Jo’s prize-winning presentation.

District Competitions – March 2018 a report by our President, Julian.

Sunday saw the District AGM and competitions take place.
As always Kent did very well, taking first place in two out of three competitions. But what I’m most proud in announcing is that our Stew won the topics competition. Well done Stew you did us proud. There was some tough competition from other clubs, but the judges gave it it to Stew. Is this history repeating itself?
The standards were very high this year, especially in the speaking competition: I was glad I didn’t have to be the Chief judge. But this was won by Rowena Hawtin from West Kent .
Also, a very big thank you to Suzanne for organising so much of the day and for setting up the venue early in the morning on her way to the airport.You are a star.
The full results for the day:
Evaluation competition- first place Bilwa Iyer ( Wimbledon Speakers Club), second place Lucy Pitts ( Horsham SC)
Topics competition – first place Stew ( Chaucer SC), second  Lucy Pitts (Horsham SC)
Speech Competition- first place Rowena Hawtin ( WKSC) , second ,Neil Taylor ( City of London SC) 
District President Cup was awarded to our Suzanne – very well deserved – for all her hard work behind the scenes.
The Ace of Clubs cup went to the City of London  for overcoming some serious challenges and now flourishing in a new venue.
Competition winners Bilwa, Stewart and Rowena