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Fundraising Auctioneer

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May I Have Your Attention Please

Posted by Scott On January 16th

In Part 1 of this Blog I talked about the 6 words you should never say during a fundraising event. For those who didn’t see the first Blog, just take a look at the title above. I also gave a recommendation on what should be said, which I’ll repeat a little later.

In this Blog I want to get more specific regarding 3 questions I’m often asked about announcements during the course of a fundraising event.  Those questions include:

  • How many announcements should be made?
  • What kind of announcements should be made?
  • When should announcements be made during the duration of the social hour/silent auction?

Before I answer those questions I highly recommend that from the very start of an event you have a schedule in place for the entire program and stick with the schedule. This includes when the doors open, the opening and closing of the silent auction, the start of the program, the start of the dinner service and the start of the live auction. The attendees should be aware of these timeframes.

By sticking to the schedule your attendees will be anticipating the start of the various elements within your program.

schedule

Now, Question 1: How many announcements should be made during the social hour and silent auction?

If you’re waiting for a magical number the truth is – I don’t know. Every audience is different.  The key is to keep them to as few as possible and to be strategic about when they are said. Remember, your guests do not like to be interrupted when they’re having fun and conversing with fellow attendees. They will give their attention a finite number of times – so use announcements sparingly.

Question 2: What kind of announcements should be made?

Only interrupt your guests when something meaningful needs to be said. Feel free to welcome guests a few times as they arrive at the venue. If a silent auction item isn’t receiving its fair share of bids due to its location in the room it’s perfectly acceptable to make the attendees aware of it.

Now, here’s an example of an announcement that should never be made, “May I have your attention please!  Bill Smith please go to the registration table your friends are here.”

Simply put, you do not ask everyone for their attention when you’re trying to find a single individual. Instead of making a public announcement you send out your volunteers to canvas the venue, locate him, and give him the message – privately.

Talking in to Mic

Question 3:  When should announcements be made during the duration of the social hour/silent auction?

Again, every fundraiser is different, but here are my suggestions. Deliver a few welcome announcements at the beginning of the event.  During the course of the silent auction limit announcements to those silent auction items that are not receiving much attention. As the silent auction is getting ready to close, inform attendees that the deadline for the silent auction is near. And finally, get the attendees to take their seats for the start of the program, not by saying – “May I Have Your Attention Please” – but with softer, less intrusive announcement such as, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s so wonderful to have you here tonight. This evening is off to a great start and we so much appreciate your participation in this most worthy cause.”

When it comes to announcements the bottom line is this:  Have a strategy, a timeline going into the event and stick to it. Be sure if you’re asking for someone’s attention it’s for a meaningful message that’s been strategically placed within the timeline – but don’t overdo it.

And at all cost never say, “May I Have Your Attention Please!” Leave the Carnival Barker for the sideshow. Treat your guests with respect. Let them have uninterrupted fun.

Remember, just because a microphone is present doesn’t mean it should be used. The fewer words spoken – the better!

 

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