I've never seen it in person, but they say that the Oval Office is the most intimidating room in the free world. If that's the case, then whomever convinced President Bush to move from the Oval Office to the White House library as the setting for last night's speech should get a big raise.
It created a much better environment for the type of speech he was delivering to the American public--one member of a focus group interviewed right after the President's speech said the all the library books in the background made him look "smarter."
As a speaker, your setting is one of the most important--and one of the most overlooked areas under your control. Make sure it sends the right kind of non-verbal message...you wouldn't want to give an important speech on corporate waste on a stage cluttered with plants and props.
Everything in the room is under your control, from the signage to the furniture to microphone placement. Contact the event organizers and find out how large the stage is...ask if the podium is movable or fixed...are there any banners or posters...and above all, include a list of your personal needs and tastes in your meeting planner's package. (You don't want to show up and find that the lighting makes you look like a talking lobster!)
Speaking in the perfect setting may not make a great speech any better--but it certainly can turn a great speech into a disaster.