Soap Box - Nick Faith, director of comms, Policy Exchange

It's that time of the year again. Some people ask me whether the party conferences are necessary. The majority of the public is unaware that they're going on and couldn't give two hoots.

Soap Box - Nick Faith, director of comms, Policy Exchange

However, the conferences present the party leaders with an opportunity to set out a clear narrative at a time when people are craving strong leadership to get the economy motoring.

Over the summer months the leaders have been working through endless drafts of speeches. They realise that all the major television networks will be in one place at one time. The BBC News at Ten is the most important media outlet for all politicians. It is watched by around 4.9 million viewers every night. Get your message right and you could influence a hell of a lot of people.

Nick Clegg will base his speech on fairer taxes in tough times. Expect to hear him take credit for the introduction of the pupil premium and taking the poorest out of tax altogether.

Ed Miliband will build on last year's 'predator vs producer' speech. It could make uncomfortable listening for the utility companies. I'd also expect to see a greater number of lobbyists in the main conference arena this year. They will want to hear where Labour stands on controversial issues such as the work programme, free schools and shale gas.

David Cameron is under a huge amount of pressure. His speech should focus on the cost of living. Energy bills, petrol prices, childcare costs, the cost of housing. These are the major concerns affecting hard-working people up and down the country. He has to build a clear narrative that encompasses all these issues.

The speeches could go on for an hour. The trick for each of the leaders is to distil their main message into a two-minute sound bite. Get that right and the conference will be worthwhile.

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