Someone I met yesterday told me about an event he attended last week at which both Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband were speaking. He said Clegg used an autocue, was wooden and unengaging, while Ed Miliband didn't use an autocue, wandered around the stage and connected with his audience.
More and more politicians are dispensing with an autocue and quite right too. It's a fraud on the audience. No one can look totally natural using an autocue and few politicians can carry it off without looking shifty. Reagan was one of the few politicians who exploited the medium without coming across badly, but I find it hard to think of many modern day politicians who can emulate him. Possibly Tony Blair.
Of course, no politician can be an expert on every subject he or she makes a speech on - so some sort of script is often necessary. One thing I have learned over the years is that if I have a script, and am speaking on an unfamiliar subject, I read the first few words of a paragraph and then look at the last few, and then extemporise the words in between. If you've read through the speech a couple of times it usually works. The audience often doesn't realise you actually have a script if you play it right.
So what are your tips for making a successful speech?