Give to Audience (Refocus Nerves)

Thomas Hayes is a master salesman, owner, CEO of Beantown Toys (, visionary, author, and motivational speaker. With an iron will forged out of the tragic experience of losing a leg to cancer in childhood, Hayes has a compelling history to share with his audiences. Here are his secrets to being present in the moment with his audience.

What is the best way you have learned to channel your nervousness?

When I am waiting I focus myself in the moment. I watch what is happening. I look at the lighting. I sense how the sound system is working. I watch where is the audience’s attention…on themselves; on the food; are they preoccupied? I take all of my attention away from myself.

What is your secret about calming down and being with your audience?

Intention is my secret. I make my intention to give something to the audience and then I have all the power. If your intention as a speaker is to receive, then you are trying to get something. You have given the audience all the power. When I watch an open-mike night, I see young comedians who are always thinking about themselves. They are focused on receiving laughs and applause. They have to shift from receiving to giving.

What is your one sentence about being with your audience?

Change your attention and shift from self-conscious to audience-conscious.

What do you do when you are in the middle of speaking and you realize you have lost or are losing the audience?

I go back to building a bridge to my audience. I stop and ask the audience a question so the pressure is off me and on the audience. “Let me ask the group this question right now.” This is the quickest technique to regain power. I stop thinking about myself. Remember, my goal is to give to my audience.

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