Fundraising Auction Quality Sound & Lighting Systems

Maximize your Revenue!

By Beahm Auction Group


For Benefit Auctions, “Auction Quality” sound and lighting serves in the best interest to maximize revenue and adds to the quality of guest experience. Any use of the venue’s built-in house sound system is not acceptable for afundraising auction. In some cases DJ or band sound may be fine depending on your room setup. It is critical for each guest to hear and become engaged in fundraising throughout every phase of your event. Here are some important factors to design the optimum sound and lighting system to raise the most money and excitement at a benefit auction.

Written Proposal – Get a written sound and lighting proposal with equipment specifications, placement of speakers on the floor plan/s. Make sure all the costs are included, including equipment, labor for set up, event, and break down. Appoint a key committee member to be the liaison with the sound company to insure that they DO set up the EXACT sound system that you approved for the night of the auction!!! Schedule early, good sound companies are booked sometimes a year in advance.

Sound – MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR: Absolutely, every guest must be able to hear clearly at BOTH silent and live auctions over the loud talking and clanking of dishes that occurs at a benefit auction. The best design for sound involves placing high quality speakers on stands surrounding the entire audience–that is speakers all the way around the auction venue. Include at least 1 to 2 stage monitors on the stage, depending on the stage size. Make sure the stage monitor settings are the same as the speakers that surround the room. The sound engineer must make sure there are no “dead sound zones” in either the silent or live auction venue. Remember, there is always a higher level of concentrated noise in the silent auction area, requiring ample speakers. If there are some areas of “transition” like hallways/foyer/extra tent, it is a good idea to have some speaker on stands in that location so that all guests can know can hear announcements. It’s essential to focus on the transition from silent to live. If there is not proper sound and excitement, your guests will get “stuck” loosing valuable time and energy. It’s critical to stay on your timeline so that you have a quick and smooth transition to dinner, program and live auction.

Professional Sound Company – It is vital to select a sound company that will support your needs to focus on a great sound system that will be designed specifically for you. The sound company needs to know that your guests will talk A LOT and there will be food service and dishes clanking and that is ok with you and ok with the auctioneer; it is normal for this type of event. The sound system needs to be designed with talking audience and noise as a given. You will need technical operator to be in attendance the entire time in both silent and live areas, this is critical. They need to be ready for a sound check 1.5 hours prior to doors opening…that means ready, not just finishing up the wiring etc.

Hand-held Cordless Microphones – You need hand-held cordless microphones-high quality for:

1. Auctioneer

2. General speakers

3. Fund a Need speaker

4. Backup microphone

5. If you have Professional Auctioneer Bid Spotters, each needs a hand-held mic too.

BAND/MUSIC/DJ – If you are using a band, DJ and music to accompany the live auction, do a run through rehearsal with the band leader/DJ with sound and lights at least one hour prior to doors opening. The band will have some sound requirements, so make sure to coordinate these needs and communicate it so that it can be written into the sound and lighting specs.

Pre-Event Sound Check

It’s imperative to also do a complete sound check for all the persons who will be using a microphone. Remember once all the levels are set according to the specific auctioneer’s requirement – please ask the sound technician NOT to change the levels. Each sound system is different and it’s imperative to practice and get the sound correct BEFORE guests arrive – it will really make a difference in your fundraising!


Indoor Venues

Bring house lights UP and as full as possible for the Heads and Tails, Live Auction and Fund a Need. NEVER any spotlights on auctioneer, period. It is impossible to see the guests and bidding activity. Make sure you have strong lighting at the Silent Auction and Live Auction displays. You can light the stage with down lights or lights from the side. Definitely install a dimmer switch so that lights can be turned full for live auction and adjusted for other phases of the evening.

Outdoor Tents – It’s imperative to have lighting levels that guests can read the silent auction bid forms and descriptions and their auction catalogs. Remember that many guests need reading glasses and can not see well in low light. Place 3-4 flood lights on tent poles directed up to create great ambient light. Make sure you have strong lighting at the Silent Auction and Live Auction displays. You can light the stage with down lights or lights from the side. Definitely install a dimmer switch so that lights can be turned full for live auction and adjusted for other phases of the evening.

Pre-Event Lighting Rehearsal – It’s imperative to also do a lighting rehearsal to practice the lighting transitions – since the lighting levels change during different phases of the event, everyone will be prepared and you will maximize fundraising and guest engagement and enjoyment.

© 2014 Beahm Auction Group. All rights reserved.