VoiceBox: How auctioneers turn selling into an art form, and a sport

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5min 00sec
Photo: Auctioneer Steve Linnebur
Auctioneer Steve Linnebur

Photo: Auctioneer Justin Ochs
Auctioneer Justin Ochs

Want to chant like an auctioneer?

  1. Warm up. In order to keep their tongues limber for the fast-talking performances, auctioneers practice with a variety of tongue twisters. In this example from Slate.com, Tim Kruse of the Reppert Auction School practices "a big black bug bit a big black bear."
  2. Speed up. Justin Ochs perfected his art by practicing with the filler words "get to bid" and "get to buy." Ochs repeated the phrases faster and faster until he was able to use them seamlessly between calling out numbers to bidders. To get a sense of what an auctioneer does all day, start out by saying the filler words at a typical speaking pace, and gradually speed up.

Alyssa Kapnik is an independent radio producer and reporter, as well as a photojournalist and portrait photographer.