Level Three. Public Appeal.

Level Three – Public Appeal.

By Michelle Lloyd.

It had finally dawned on a certain Little Herbert that his most dreaded of mornings had made an appearance.  It had been a bit of a long time coming but to Little Herbert it had felt like only the shortest of times ago that his teacher had sat him down and asked of him his biggest challenge to date.  It was up to Little Herbert to talk in public.

The school had organised an outdoor display of what the class had worked on in several of their study sessions.  It had been decided that one pupil should be the spokesperson of all his or her peers and Little Herbert had been chosen in his class vote.

Little Herbert, despite his little problem of having the odd shy moment, was Mr Popular with his friends.  It had nothing to do with the fact that his dad owned the local toy shop, although Little Herbert felt that his ability to have friends over occasionally in such a fun surrounding had won some people over.  His two closest friends, R V and New One were people he could rely on and toys or no toys they were the people who he knew would be there for him.

Public speaking had always been something that Little Herbert struggled with at school, at home when they had people visiting and out when he needed to approach large groups nerves would make him shy.  In all these situations Little Herbert would get that little indication of nerves in his tummy, then in his chest, he would feel queasy, sweaty, clammy and then it could all get a bit too overwhelming.  Little Herbert’s dad would be the one who took over so many a time in occasions that called for it but when he was on his own, with friends or at school Little Herbert had always tried to avoid public speaking.  He could not understand why some of his friends seemed to like it.  Some could even get excited about it, going out of their way to go up and talk to a vast lot of watching people.  To Little Herbert the idea of public speaking had no appeal.  He dreaded it.  All those people would watch you, anticipate and expect the next word out from you…he could not be doing with it all.  Unfortunately for Little Herbert, speak or not, a lot of people had expectations of what he was going to do that morning.  His school friends, teacher and even his dad had been invited to the outdoor playground to see him speak.

It was not as if Little Herbert had not had time to practice.  He had gone over his speech with his teacher, he had tried it out on his two friends R V and New One, he had done this so many times that they knew it off by heart, he had been over and over and OVER it with his dad at home and in their shop but the idea of actually going up and speaking to the public terrified him.

Being shy was a problem that Little Herbert had only had badly of late.  He could not understand why it started and all he knew was that it made him feel like he did not want to get out of bed.  He decided that maybe if he went under his covers and pretended like he was ill then he would not have to go and do any public speaking at all.  He remembered as he tightly went down into his comfortable bed that this was a tactic his friend New One had tried at school and it had all ended badly for him but in reality when he thought about what he had to do that morning, it meant that he did feel ill.

As the minutes ticked by Little Herbert started to think it might all pass him by, maybe people had forgotten about the whole public speaking event but just as this idea made him feel a bit more at ease he heard his dad come into his room.  He asked why Little Herbert was not ready and he felt his chest tighten at the prospect of what was to come for him at school…He explained to his dad that he was not well and when asked further he told of his symptoms, clammy, sweaty, queasy Little Herbert was all for needing a doctor until his dad said that it sounded an awful lot like bad stage fright to him.  Little Herbert popped his head out from his covers to explain that was silly because he wasn’t even going on stage.  Stage fright was something that many people could have when they became nervous about speaking in front of a public audience Little Herbert’s dad told him and he had an idea that may just put things right…

It was with his dad’s word of encouragement in his mind that Little Herbert found himself out and about to start to speak to more people than he felt should be there to see him.  It was as if to Little Herbert every inch of space in their playground had been taken up by parents, pupils and a reporter had a camera on standby… surely they didn’t need that many people but when he had asked this of his teacher and nervously adjusted his shirt collar, all she had said was not to worry it would all be fine.

It was all right for his teacher to think it was going to be fine, thought Little Herbert to himself and it was all well enough for his dad to tell him that he should concentrate on a surprise visitor that he was sure had been invented just to get him to go to do his public speaking duty.  It was all good and fine for all those people who looked at him thought Little Herbert with a dry throat and not ok at all for him because at that last second he remembered the worst part of his stage fright problem as his dad called it, he remembered that when he got nervous he would forget everything that he had to say.

People looked at Little Herbert and as he fumbled for what he had to open his speech with it occurred to him that this was probably going to be the worst day of his life.  Little Herbert could see his dad in the audience of so many and while seeing his dad would usually calm him on this occasion seeing him looking around frantically only made him feel more nervous.  His dad had never let him down before but this time his enticement of a surprise visitor had not done it all and he could not think of anything he liked to even distract him.  It was as he felt that everything had gone wrong and there was no way that he could say a single word that he looked out into the people and saw someone who put all the nerves into a distant thought for Little Herbert.  It was as he saw his one, funny, intelligent and one off of a granddad that lots of happiness filled his mind and Little Herbert almost laughed out loud as he saw him clambering over people’s shoes and feet with a big box of what he guessed must be his latest inventions that he had promised to show to him.  Granddad made his way through the audience as if they were hardly there, much to their dislike and Little Herbert saw him wave at him with a huge expression of happiness.  Little Herbert’s dad finally looked calmer to see that his surprise guest had arrived and as they greeted each other a horn went off from inside granddad’s box of inventions.  People did not look at all happy by Little Herbert’s granddad and his clumsy, noisy appearance at the event but all of a sudden it made everything seem easier and before he knew it his speech was out and people were clapping for him.  Granddad’s appeal had won out over the terror of a public speech.  Little Herbert learned that his dad’s thoughts on distraction were not so bad after all as it had aided him in achieving his speech and as he watched his two friends R V and New One race over to see his granddad he knew that what he had thought of as the worst day had actually turned into one of the most loveliest of his entire life.