5 Quick Tips...
1. Don't overcrowd your tables. If it looks cluttered when you are doing preliminary set up, imagine how difficult and confusing it will be for your guests with 300 people in the room. (Do not copy the following 2 set ups)
2. Keep tables simple and organized. With an appropriate number of items on a table, the bid sheets and items should be easily matched up to place a bid. Don't make bidders find the bid sheet for something they want to bid on.
3. Keep descriptions simple. Somewhere along the line we started to think that silent items required long, flowery almost thematic descriptions for each item. Most silent items speak for themselves. Let's say the item in question is a "BBQ Lovers Dream" and includes some tools, sauce, mitts and a grill. Do we really need to write a description that goes on about "all the great times they will have in the backyard cooking up hot dogs, burgers and steaks with their envious friends all summer long"? Again, if guests read each description, it takes time we generally don't have at the auction and I've found that most silent items are like buying stuff in the checkout line, you see it...you want it...you buy it.
4. Close sections on time. Close your tables on time and resist forces lobbying you extend the closing times. You will always have someone who has attended "dozens of auctions" and will try to convince you to keep the silent open till after the Live or through dinner. While well meaning, they are wrong. Stick to your guns.
5. Best for Last. Make sure the best of the silent auction is on that last section you close out. Simple math. When that last table is closing, you have more people focused on fewer items. Create some excitement for that last table. Nobody gets a deal at your auction. This is a fundraiser after all.