I spent Saturday working with 14 women who are seeking a seat to fight at the coming General Election. The group boasted a wide range of experience, with several people who had fought seats in 2005, others who have made it to finals but not yet been successful and a few who have just joined the candidates' list and have all the challenges of the selection process awaiting them.
My own session involved some basic training in public speaking, with everyone practising for three minutes before being critiqued by colleagues. The standard was high, even amongst those with less experience. The party has set out to remove the old requirement for a tub thumping speech from the selection interview, replacing it with questions from a professional moderator - often a journalist although I have filled this role in two of the London Assembly selections.
However, moderator and candidate are often standing at lecterns and the questions do sometimes present opportunities to in effect deliver a speech - and confident speakers will grab such opportunities. Two examples:
At the beginning - Tell us why you are a Conservative and why you want to represent Skipton and Ripon - provides the chance to deliver a short speech outlining your background and beliefs.
At the end - Is there anything you would like to say in conclusion? - is the perfect point to make a passionate bid for the job and leave the audience on a high.
Candidates who fail to take opportunities like this will fail to stand out sufficiently to get selected.