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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

How to win a bid calling contest

The fight known as “Tyson Is Back!” was held in Tokyo, Japan on February 11, 1990.

Mike Tyson lost to Buster Douglas in what is considered one of the biggest sports upsets in history.

What happened here? The undefeated, undisputed heavyweight champion got beat by Buster Douglas — who had lost his mother 23 days prior to the fight, was dealing with the mother of his son facing a kidney ailment, and had contracted the flu just prior to the fight? Yep.

“I wasn’t afraid, and to me that was the key,” Douglas would later tell the press. By lacking fear, Douglas’ confidence rose. “At one point in the fight, I felt invincible,” he would say. “I experienced a feeling I never had before.”

Auctioneers enter bid calling contests all over the United States in state venues, regional contests and national/international competitions. Such large-scale contests include:

Auctioneer bid calling contests aren’t boxing matches, but for any auctioneer, confidence helps to allay excessive anxiety. How important is it to manage anxiety? The experts say, “very important.”

Anxiety is the product of a complex and dynamic cognitive appraisal process which actively balances an individual’s perceptions of resources, situational demands, and internal and external sources of feedback prior to, during, and following performances. One’s appraisal of the demands of a performance situation (e.g. task difficulty, consequences of failure, others’ high expectations, and the perceived importance of the outcome) are compared with one’s unique individual characteristics (e.g. self-efficacy, trait anxiety, skill level, degree of preparation, and past experience), resulting in an overall assessment of the degree to which the situation poses a threat.

So, how should an auctioneer improve on self-efficacy, trait anxiety, skill level, degree of preparation and past experience?

Here’s our 10 tips for doing just that, (in somewhat chronological order) and succeeding in an auctioneer bid calling contest:

  1. Bid call publiclyWork at an auction house, car auction, or other regularly scheduled auction. Experiment with different words, sounds, pace …

  2. Watch and listenFind videos of past contest winners and contestants. Borrow techniques and/or sounds that work for you.

  3. PracticePosition yourself in front of a mirror, and otherwise with other trusted advisers watching you. Critique yourself and have others do the same.

  4. Build a routineCreate habits. Do you hold the microphone with your right or left hand? Is your other hand an open palm, or closed? Repeat the same routine over and over so that your performance is something you’ve done many times before.

  5. Take care of yourselfGet enough rest, nutrition, comfortable clothing, and be groomed. Wear clothing, perfume, cologne or jewelry that you’ve worn before and are comfortable with.

  6. Be selling to friendsMeet and greet other auctioneers who will be in the audience and the judges if possible; seeing “friends” in the audience can help you relax.

  7. VisualizeGet up on that stage early in the day and “see” how it’s going to look for the contest. Picture the crowd, lights, judges; run through your mind your performance while on stage.

  8. Worry about youBe you, and be the best “you” that day; don’t worry about doing better than someone else; it’s about what you can control. Manage your emotions — save your energy and excitement for the stage.

  9. Have funSmile. Nothing engages judges and others in attendance better than a genuine smile. As well, your smile can be contagious, prompting audience members to smile back, helping you gain even more confidence.

  10. Keep competingEnter again, and work to keep improving your performance; be a gracious loser and generous winner.

I’ve heard it said many times that, “Winning a bid calling contest will change your life!” I would only add that participating in a bid calling contest — and improving oneself — is a positive change as well.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

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