Tom blog

Tom Messenger’s ‘I am Somebody’ talk at TEDxYouthCroydon, was a platform for street children all over the globe; he shared their plight, their ambitions, their talents and most importantly, their love for football and how that has changed their lives.

What was your TEDx speech about?

Tom chose a topic he was passionate about and had plenty to say about. His first challenge in preparation for his talk was, ‘‘choosing a single message to drive home and then picking the most relevant and powerful stories to illustrate that point.’’

When he managed to find what to say and how to present it, he began to practice.  “I spend lots of time reciting the speech and recording it and listening back and getting others to listen and critique.  I was particularly indebted to Sue Fish, my TEDx mentor, she spent lots of time listening to the same thing over and over.”

Tom has done some public speaking before, but never had to speak for as long as he did at TEDxYouthCroydon without notes.  He shares, “the challenge was definitely getting myself to a stage where I was confident that I could deliver the whole speech when the pressure was on.”

What has happened to Tom since TEDx?

Since speaking at TEDxYouthCroydon about the impact of the first ever Street Child World Cup in South Africa in 2010, Tom had already set up the second edition of the Street Child World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this year. Street children from 19 countries participated. Tom shares, “the children were there as representatives not just of their home countries but also of street children the world over, and we couldn’t have asked for better ambassadors.  They played some great football, but also made lasting friendships and connections with the children from other countries.”

Unsurprisingly, the Street Child World Cup garnered a lot of media interest. Many of the children went home as heroes, to parades and civic receptions, and it has led to governments committing to offer children greater protection. Besides the Street Child World Cup, Tom’s day job is that of a mathematics teacher and this year he has completed a master’s degree in Philosophy – it’s been a busy year for him.

How did Tom’s friends and family react to hearing your speech?

Tom received very positive feedback from friends and family. A couple of his friends were attendees and when he shared his talk on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, he received a lot of positive comments. Tom has also acknowledged the role of TED Talks’ prestige in the positive comments he has received, “TED is a huge brand, and the chance to be part of a TEDx event is something that people are impressed by.’’

His TEDxYouthCroydon talk made people more aware of the charity work that Tom has done. He also adds that, “it [TEDxYouthCroydon] sparked off some great conversations.’’ Though Tom acknowledges that his talk at TEDxYouthCroydon has been advantageous, he finds it difficult to pinpoint a specific advantage. This month however, he started teaching at a new school and he put his talk on his CV and spoke about his experience in his interview.

What did you learn from delivering your speech?

Tom learnt from the talk that, “practice makes perfect, and through getting to know the other speakers I could see how people my age and younger really are making a difference.’’

What advice do you give other speakers

Tom advices that anyone wanting to do a TEDxYouth talk to “keep your message simple, and make sure it’s something that is personal to you. The stories I tell about the street children from around the world whom I have worked with are ones I tell at any opportunity. It’s a natural passion for me and so made for a talk topic that I could throw myself into and reveal something about myself through it.’’

What did Tom enjoy the most about participating in TEDxYouthCroydon?

“It was amazing to meet all the other speakers who, through totally different backgrounds and contexts, all came together because they were involved in making a change.  Every one of the other speakers were doing something incredible and were passionate about what they were doing.  When we got to know each other, however, it was also clear that we were all ‘normal’ people, and that in itself was inspiring that anyone can make a real impact.  We watched each other practice their talks when they were far from ready, and seeing the growth and improvement whilst we were all together supporting and encouraging each other was incredibly powerful.’’


Tom Messenger’s talk video: