Eye Can’t Hear You

A few years ago at an East Bay Auction an interesting thing happened.  The event included about three hundred people at a beautiful Country Club.  Everybody was enthusiastic and came ready to spend and support and enjoy the evening.

After doing my  normal “can everybody hear me clearly” announcement, I felt confident that everybody could. So I started the 43 lot auction and paddles were going up everywhere. The lot descriptions and numbers were being projected on a large screen behind me and and bids were coming from every corner of the room.

Then, about halfway through the auction the laptop sending the PowerPoint slides to the projector failed and the large screen behind me went black. Oddly enough, people started telling the spotters that they couldn’t hear me! The only thing that had changed was the screen going black.  The sound was exactly as it was for the first twenty lots, no levels were changed, no microphones replaced, nothing changed except… the big black screen,  and now they couldn’t hear me.

So what caused this sudden loss of hearing?  Their eyes!  Having the lot numbers displayed near the stage gives your audience a chance to “track” where the auction is. When a lot that is of interest gets close, the interested parties can stop their socializing and get ready to bid.  Most people have already perused the catalog and know which lots they are going to bid on.  But when you take away their visual reference system, they need to “hear” when a lot of interest is coming up.

“Which lot are we on” and “I wanted to bid on that” is not something you want to hear from the crowd.

I have never had the feed to a projector go out in the past and hopefully will never have one go out again in the future.  I do however, wonder if one of those large pads and a Magic Marker tucked away behind the stage is a ”sound” investment.