- Include a video or slideshow at the beginning of your auction to tug at heartstrings (show your beneficiaries, demonstrate your need, and spell out the benefits that will be achieved with the proceeds of the evening’s events);
- Start your auction during dinner. When people are eating, they are in their seats, which is a good thing. Don’t worry about wait staff walking around—your auctioneer would far prefer to compete with the wait staff for people’s attention than to compete with the bar a half-hour after dinner is over. Be sure people can see any actual items that are for sale (either have the item there or include a picture in a slideshow or Powerpoint presentation—preferably with bullet points highlighting the details of the package on the slide as well);
- Be sure to describe each auction item in your catalogue/program with such specificity as may be necessary and appropriate to advise potential bidders of exactly what is being offered. This is especially important with respect to intangible items like trips, vacation rentals, meals with celebrity chefs or hosts, and various types of outings and experiences.
- Number your live auction items and the pages in your catalogue, and use your Powerpoint slides to show item numbers throughout the auction, so everyone can, at a glance, confirm what item is currently up for auction at any time;
- Consider having several donors pitch their own items (i.e. If Mr. & Mrs. Smith are donating a dinner for 10 people at their home, and one or both of them have a lot of personalities, consider having them pitch their dinner to the audience). This can serve to make the evening more interesting, and they may do the best job at selling their event;
- Always put the bar in the same room as the live auction. If you can‘t do this, put it as near to the live auction room as possible. This should be self-explanatory;
- The ideal room size and configuration is just big enough to fit everyone in and with just enough chairs to accommodate everyone (too small a room is better than too big). Don‘t have far too many chairs or open tables — let there be too few chairs and then have venue staff bring in more chairs to accommodate late-arrivers.
- In promoting attendance at your auction event, do whatever you consider appropriate to get your most likely big bidder/donors and their friends to commit to attending the event.
- Seat your VIP’s up front. You know who your big bidders are from past years‘ auctions, so seat them near the stage or dance floor so that they will be sure to get the attention they deserve.