At TEDxYouthCroydon’s second annual event we had some of the most talented and inspiring young people of today. Monalisa was the first to kick off our event with a moving talk about recognising the everyday heroes who walk among us, often overshadowed by celebrities and other popular culture. Below is her TEDx experience and words of wisdom for future speakers…


Tell us about your experience

Monalisa1“I applied because I wanted to share this idea I have about everyday ‘Superheroes’ with as many people as possible, and I felt that TEDxYouthCroydon was the best platform to do so.

I chose ‘Superheroes’ as my topic because I had been thinking about for a very long time. I mean, I see ordinary people in my ordinary life displaying heroic qualities every day without ever getting any recognition for it, and in my World Imagined, the one I would like to live in, these people would not only be appreciated for their hard work, but everyone would see them for who they really are: heroes.”


What did you find the most difficult thing?

“Crafting my speech was very difficult. The hardest part was finding the right words to start. Once I had that down, everything else just came. I learnt my speech through the editing process, having gone over it so many times to change it, cut it, improve it, when I came round to actually having to learn it, I almost knew all of it.  Then because I am so passionate about this topic, it didn’t take long to memorize the first line of each paragraph and then it was all in my head.

The coaching was great! My coach Sue helped me relentlessly to polish my speech and make it the absolute best version of itself. She was always available and ready with new feedback to give, and I really appreciated her help and support throughout my TED journey.”


And the speech itself?


“It was fantastic! When I was introduced and went on the stage, I just wasn’t nervous anymore. THIS was the moment I had prepared for and I was ready. The beginning was the most difficult part, starting my speech and setting the atmosphere for the audience, but once I realised I could do it without any trouble, everything else just came to me. I felt and believed in every word I was saying and it felt like the first time I had ever delivered my speech in front of the TEDx speakers and coaches at our first rehearsal: raw and real. I was very thankful for all the many times I had practiced the speech because it meant I didn’t have to think too much about the order of the words, I could focus on the delivery, and simply, just feeling what I was saying.

Without a doubt, it was one of the best experiences ever!”

Afterwards I felt satisfied, complete and a little bit lightheaded perhaps. Everyone from back home have been very supportive and proud, we are all just waiting for the videos to come out. My favourite part of the experience was definitely getting to meet the other speakers and listening to their speeches. It was just really inspiring to see and be a part of the process that showcased all these amazing and thought provoking speeches.”


Whats next for Monalisa

“GCSEs are my top priority at the moment, but I’m looking around for any other speaking competitions or events that I could take part in. When your passion is speaking, it’s hard to live without it.”


Any advice for future speakers?

“First of all choose a topic that interests YOU, not just one you think others would like. If you talk about something you are passionate about the audience will automatically pick up on it – they will be enticed by your passion. Write what feels right to YOU: don’t try to use too many big words or fancy language for the sake of it, if something doesn’t feel right – DON’T SAY IT! Take counsel from everyone, accept criticism and be open to feedback: you can always make your speech better, so let your pride take the backseat and accept other people’s constructive advice. And finally …”

Write from the heart. Speak from the heart.”