Meeting with a benefit auctioneer

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June 23, 2017 “Say What?”

You’ve hired your professional fundraising auctioneer, you’ve procured the right live auction items and you have the right guests in the room.  You are all set, right?  Maybe not. What plan do you have for the sound in the room?  Let’s talk about what your best options are.

Most venues have “house” sound systems, what I refer to as “can speakers”.  These speakers are located in the ceiling of the room.  Though these might be a good fit for a presenter with a speech, they are not capable of providing the best sound possible for a singer.  And an auctioneer’s chant is very much like that of a singer. In almost all cases, a house sound system will simply not have the clarity or volume that is needed for everyone in the room to hear and understand an auctioneer. So, when your chosen event venue tells you they have a good sound system, I highly encourage you to ask more questions.

When I consult with clients I explain the best type of speakers are speakers on a stand.  This setup provides the clarity and volume necessary for a live auction. If you don’t have sufficient volume to get above the crowd noise, the auctioneer will never be able to get your guests engaged in the fundraising.

Most sound companies place speakers in the front of the room, much like you’d see at a concert.  There are several issues with this setup. For one thing, in this scenario the guests sitting close to the stage receive the brunt of the sound. Because the guests sitting up front and close to the stage are typically your top donors, the last thing you want is them being made uncomfortable by being blasted out of their seats all during the event.  And what about the folks in the back of the room with this front-speakers only setup? They can barely hear anything at all! Do you know what guests who can’t hear do at an event? They disengage and talk among themselves, which creates enough noise that the people in the middle of the room who could hear before are now unable to hear because of all the chatter going on in the back of the room.

The choice of sound setup can make or break your fundraising event, folks.

To get the best sound possible at your event, consider placing the speakers on both sides at the front of the room AND on both sides halfway down the room.  This spreads the sound out, making it distinguishable and pleasant to everyone in attendance.

Like myself, many auctioneers prefer not to work from the stage.  We’d rather be on the dance floor or in the front of the stage. This allows us to make eye contact with guests and interact with them, encouraging their bidding. Not being on the stage also allows an auctioneer the opportunity to avoid the speakers on each side of the stage that many sound companies place there. These side speakers create that unwelcome, fingers-on-the-chalkboard feedback from the auctioneer’s microphone. Check with your auctioneer about their preferences and put the sound company in the loop to where in the room your auctioneer will be while selling.

Many nonprofits are unaware of the importance of a proper sound configuration at their event venues. The success of your fundraising event can be directly related to how well, or not, your guests can hear what’s going on.

Make every minute a revenue generating minute!

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