For the next few days, I searched model essay books for a suitable topic to speak on for I could never had written my own speech even if my life depended on it. Eventually, I chose a topic on pollution because at that time, everyone from the man in the street to the top ministers were talking about it. After that, I memorized the speech until I was word-perfect.
Having done that, I practised delivering the speech in front of a full-length mirror. At the beginning, I stumbled over some tongue-twisting words. Later, I was able to deliver the whole speech in a ringing voice and with the most emphatic gestures. I thought that I was magnificent and so did my family. Eventually, I even dared to think that I may win the championship after all! At last, the day of the contest arrived. I was seated in front with the rest of the contestants. Some of the contestants spoke, and I thought they were very good. However, I felt that I was better than all of them. When my turn came to speak, I wanted to stride up the stairs to the stage but my legs had turned rubbery and I could hardly walk. Somehow, I made my way up the stairs to the stage and stood in front of the microphone.
"A very good morning to the Chairman, my beloved Principal, teachers and fellow-pupils." I began and that was as far as I got. My next words simply refused to come out.
All the beautiful words which I had stored in my memory seemed to have evaporated. My limbs were also so stiffened by fear that I could not coax them to display any gestures which I had taken so much time and effort to perfect. I could feel the audience sympathising with me but I did not want their sympathy. What I wanted was their admiration.
By a tremendous effort of will, i managed to let out a sound but it turned out to be a croak because of my...