It Happened to Me: A Blabbermouth Auctioneer

October 2, 2006, 12:00 AM EDT

For one event production exec, an auctioneer who went off-script at a charity dinner caused a major blunder. A large airline had donated a flight for the auction, and the auctioneer made a disparaging comment about the company—while its representative was in the audience.

“We really went down on our knees for that,” the event producer says.“We instantly addressed the situation, saying it was unacceptable,unexpected, and that we were mortified. We had to write a lot ofletters of apology and offered whatever we could to make it better.Luckily, the airline rep was very gracious, and our apology from theorganization’s top brass was accepted. We also made an effort to writeup the airline’s trip donation in the organization’s newsletter. I havenot solicited the airline recently, but I have no qualms about doingso. This was an isolated incident, and it was handled professionally.”

Bottom line: Make sure your speaker is scripted— and stays on script.This isn’t the time for a Last Comic Standing try-out. Don’t allowdisparaging jokes about anybody—whether they’re immediately involved insponsoring your event or not. That person or company could write acheck for your next event.

Erika Rasmusson Janes

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