Authors, of course, cannot speak effectively. It would be unrealistic to expect them to bat the breeze as well as they wield the pen. However, Dominic Hobson, financial journalist and author of the just-published 1,300+ page tome, The National Wealth, is an exception.
The launch party, hosted by BAT at its new Temple headquarters, clashed unfortunately with Rory Bremner's engagement party, so fewer turned up than expected, but Hobson was unfazed as he launched into what turned out to be a witty and entertaining speech about his book, subtitled Who Gets What in Britain.
Using humour to good effect and avoiding jokes (always risky these days - you are bound to offend someone) he told the story of the genesis of the book with no small amount of self-deprecation. Hobson explained that the book took him 10 years to write, had its name changed three times and is four times as long as originally intended. He's also been through five publishers, pointing out: 'Publishers are like wives. You always want someone else's!'
Another oratorical trick employed by Hobson was the use of props. He'd brought along an original contract for the book dated 1990 which had asked for 120,000 words to be delivered in less than two years - in the end, he told us, he was only 2,528 days late.
Hobson translates his writing style well into the spoken word. The book, despite its length, is a racy read and pulls no punches in its disparagement of the greed he catalogues, particularly that of the City. 'This book is not for the irascible,' he told us.
Key moment: The disclosure that the life-span of the book exactly matches that of his marriage.
Key lesson: Using props can really bring a speech to life.
Silver tongue or foot in mouth?