By: Stephen LaRaviere
When most people think about an auction they immediately think about the fast-talking man or woman taking the bids at lightning speed and immediately wonder how they can talk so fast? The simple answer to that question is practice, practice & then more practice.
As a third-generation auctioneer, I have been asked this question more times than I can count. But the truth is that learning to auctioneer can be just like learning to dance. When someone wants to learn a dance they have never done before they generally do not start out lightning speed. They start slow and learn the steps and as they practice each step over & over again they get a little faster each time because they are not having to think about each step as muscle memory kicks in.
Becoming a auctioneer is a lot of the same methodology. A new auctioneer starts by simply counting as you did in grade school but they will do it hundreds of times until they can count as fast backward as they can forward. The goal is to know your numbers so well that you do not have to think about what comes next as you are selling an item.
As they progress and practice they begin to add what is known as filler words in between the numbers to add rhythm & smooth out the chant. Probably the most popular filler words would be 'dollar bidder now'. For example, an auctioneer would start by just practicing this simple drill
1 dollar bidder now 2
2 dollar bidder now 3
3 dollar bidder now 4
Auctioneers also make use of tongue twisters in their practice routine to loosen their tongues and help with clarity of their chant. A few those would include 'a big brown bug bit a big brown Bear' or ' how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood'.
While the process may seem simple it is a time-consuming process that takes dedication and discipline.
The best place to start for anyone wanting to become a auctioneer is to attend one of the many auctions schools across the US. The National Auctioneers Association has a full list of auction schools that can be found here.
Stephen LaRaviere is a third generation auctioneer and the 2020 Virginia State Champion Auction. He graduated from Walton School of Auctioneering in Medina OH in 2009. He now owns and operates Matthews Auctioneers in Galax Va with his family.