I've only ever used an autocue once, and that was to record a Party Political Broadcast, when I was told that it was vital, in order to ensure that the segments of speech matched exactly the clips of film. Even then I so disliked it that I discarded it and managed by memorising instead. I just don't like an autocue. I don't like using them, and I think they are a deception on the audience. If I'm speaking from notes, I prefer to hold up my speech so that everyone can see exactly what I'm doing.
This week Nick Clegg was widely reported as making his conference speech without notes. People have told me how impressed they were by this. Now I'm not saying that speaking with notes is any more or less laudable than 'going commando', but I'm not so sure about a speaker who likes to give the impression that he's freewheeling, when in fact he's reading it. It just doesn't seem right to me. I wonder how many speakers at the Labour and Conservative conferences will resort to the same tactic over the next two weeks.