Stick to your timeline

There is a tendency to adjust the timeline of an event mid-event if things aren’t proceeding as planned. Usually it’s because people aren’t bidding on the silent auction with as much fervor as the silent auction chairs had envisioned. They want to keep the silent open for “an extra 15 minutes, to give people a chance to bid.”

Unless there has been a major incident that is preventing attendees from getting to your event on time, don’t alter your timeline. Especially if your timeline has been published in the catalog or elsewhere at the event. The timeline for the evening is the one element that you actually have control over; hopefully you established it strategically.

Altering your timeline can have serious repercussions across the rest of your event. It can throw off the timing for dinner, it delays the start of your live auction, and ultimately it costs you money. More than that, however, altering the timeline can aggravate your crowd.

I emceed a silent auction conducted via mobile bidding recently, hyping items and announcing closing times. The event chair opted to keep the silent open for an extra 15 minutes, to “give people a chance to bid from their seats at dinner.”

When I took the stage to announce that the silent auction would be open for an additional 15 minutes, people actually booed! Their expectations had been set, and they were ready to move on with the evening. They didn’t want to have to spend any more time protecting their bids, they were ready for the next phase of the evening.

This crowd recovered and didn’t hold this decision against me or the organization, thankfully. But all it really takes is for you to piss off one of your big bidders to negatively impact your event.

Strategically craft your timeline, publish it, and stick to it. Your crowd will be happier, and your event will be better for it.