Bid a bam, bidabum, bidda, bidda… What Are Auctioneers Really Saying? Decoding the Auctioneer's Chant.

by Wayne Nisley
May 31, 2024
3 Min Read

The rapid-fire, rhythmic song of an auctioneer at work is not just an auditory spectacle but a well-orchestrated performance designed to drive up bids and maintain the auction's momentum. While it can seem like gibberish to the untrained ear, each phrase, and number called out serves a specific purpose in the bidding process. This blog post will dive into the fascinating world of auctioneering, breaking down the "chant" to reveal what auctioneers are really communicating during an auction.

Table of Contents

The Core Message

Current Bid: The most crucial information that the auctioneer conveys is the current high bid followed by the current asking price. For example: ‘I have $500, would you bid $600’. This figure is repeated often and articulated clearly to ensure all participants are aware of the bidding status.

Encouraging Next Bid: Between the numbers, the auctioneer employs a series of filler words and phrases designed to encourage and prompt the crowd for higher offers. Phrases like "Can I get?", "Who will go for?" and "Looking for…", “Would you bid”, are strategically used to coax higher bids from the participants.

Filler Words and Rhythm

Maintaining Momentum: Auctioneers are trained to use their chant to keep the auction's pace and build a sense of urgency. These filler words are quite random, vary greatly from one auctioneer to the next, and are chosen for their ability to maintain rhythm and flow. The chant helps keep the auction lively and engaging, compelling bidders to act swiftly.

Examples of Filler Words: Common fillers include transitional and numerical cues like "Now," "Next," "Would you give?", “Bid to me”, “Will you bid”, and repetitive sequences like "Bidder bid, now bid, will you bid?" And a lot of self-made fillers that come from hours of practice until fine-tuned.

Selling the Item

While the numerical bid plays a starring role, auctioneers also weave descriptions and selling points into their chant:

Highlight Features: Occasionally, auctioneers will spotlight key features of the item up for bid, especially if they notice a lull in activity. This can reignite interest and spark competitive bidding among participants.

Create Excitement: Enthusiastic language and tone are crucial. An auctioneer's energy can be infectious, encouraging a lively bidding environment. Words are chosen not only for their meaning but for their ability to energize the crowd.

Clarity Over Speed

Balancing Act: It's a common misconception that speed is the primary skill of an auctioneer. In reality, clarity is just as important. Participants must understand the bid calls clearly to stay engaged. A good auctioneer articulates the core messages effectively, while maintaining a speed that the crowd can easily follow and engage with.

Reading the Crowd: Skilled auctioneers read the room's energy and adjust their chant accordingly. They might slow down clarifying stakes for high-value items or speed up, energizing the bidding for more routine items.

Beyond the Basics

Body Language: The physical presence of an auctioneer, including hand gestures and facial expressions, plays a vital role in the effectiveness of the chant. Strategic use of body language can emphasize bids, direct attention, and add a layer of excitement to the call.

Auctioneers are performers, strategists, and crucial facilitators of the bidding process. By understanding the structure and purpose behind their chant, spectators and bidders alike can appreciate the artistry and skill involved in auctioneering. The next time you find yourself at an auction, listen closely—you will find that the rapid succession of numbers and phrases is not as cryptic as it first appears.

Did you know? At Bright Star we do all our auctions live simulcast, meaning you can watch and listen to the auctioneer online! By simply hitting the View Live button on our website it seems like you’re right there in the room with the auctioneer. Or maybe the auctioneer is in the room with you!

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