6 March 2019

How an actor became an auctioneer

In 2018, Oliver Burton – a graduate of NIDA – entered the Inner West heat of the Novice Auctioneers Competition (NAC).

“Having completed my real estate licence, I was determined to find a way to break into the auction world,” he says. “Whether or not I emerged with a job, I knew the experience was going to prove invaluable.”

How right he was. 

Competing against eight other finalists, Burton delivered what REINSW President, Leanne Pilkington described as “a polished, professional and well prepared” performance to be named REINSW Novice Auctioneer 2018.

From actor to auctioneer

Aside from attaining his Real Estate Licence, Burton has no prior experience in auctioneering. However, he believes his acting studies gave him an advantage.

“As a NIDA trained actor and experienced corporate MC, I was no stranger to standing in front of a crowd and thinking on my feet,” he says. “I think that kind of background is a pretty good starting position for an auctioneer.

However, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t nervous.

“As a competitor, you are not allowed to watch the performance of those competing before you,” says Burton. “That means there’s sometimes a long wait before your turn, during which thoughts of self-doubt can creep in.”

While others obsessively go over their intros, Burton says he prefers to meditate.

“If you’re properly prepared, I think by that stage you will know your stuff when you’re up there,” he says. “So, it’s better to relax and enjoy it.”

Winning and what’s next

After winning the NAC, Burton was offered a position at Cooley Auctions (that’s right, the auction house founded by previous NAC winner, Damien Cooley).

“I was trilled and very grateful to win the state final,” says Burton. “Each of the finalists was good enough to win, so to be chosen out of such an impressive field was an incredibly gratifying validation of the choices I had made to get to that point.

“And now as a result, I’m a full-time auctioneer with the brilliant team at Cooley.

Burton says the NAC is the best way to introduce yourself to the auction industry.

“Win, lose or draw, the chance to be seen by that many industry leaders at once is worth grabbing with both hands,” he says. 

“Whether you have designs on an auction career, are a real estate professional who would like to better understand the process, or simply someone who enjoys being the centre of attention and raising money for a good cause, you will not regret entering the NAC.”

Oliver’s top tips for the NAC

  1. Remember that everyone is on your side | They want you to succeed. It may not feel like a friendly crowd, but it is.
  2. You must prepare | Go to as many auctions as possible, find the list of previous winners, give them a buzz and ask for their advice. Make sure you fully understand the structure that is expected of your auction and learn it off by heart. Grab a deck of cards and get your numbers up to speed.
  3. Take an improvisation class | I’m serious. Within a couple of lessons you will realise that there is nothing any one can throw at you that you can’t handle. Imagine what you could do with that sort of confidence.

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