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Watch what happened when Savannah took the stage to lead a live auction

Savannah learned all she need to know from a top pro. Then, she was put to work.
/ Source: TODAY

TODAY co-anchor Savannah Guthrie is no stranger to talking when she delivers the news or conducts a big interview, but she got a new education on speaking when she had the chance to be an auctioneer.

Savannah got the opportunity to lead an auction after getting a lesson from Lydia Fenet, a veteran auctioneer from Christie’s auction house in New York City who has worked in the profession for over 20 years, raising more than half a billion dollars for more than 600 non-profit organizations along the way. Fenet led Savanah through the ins and outs of how to succeed as an auctioneer, with many pieces of advice.

Everyone is rooting for you

"I'm excited and now I’m really intimidated," Savannah told Fenet when they met.

Fenet put her mind at ease by starting off with a simple rule.

“The first lesson of auctioneering is the audience wants you to succeed, and they want you offstage quickly,” Fenet told Savannah in a story that aired March 24 on TODAY.

Savannah did her best to keep the auction running smoothly.
Savannah did her best to keep the auction running smoothly.TODAY

The gavel

Fenet then set up Savannah with some key points, including handing her a gavel — without anything attached to it.

“There is no stick because in my first auction I hit it so hard that it rolled underneath the podium, and I have never taken another stick at the end of a gavel,” she said, while encouraging Savannah to pound it three times “nice and loud.”

Master the swoop

Fenet also told Savannah never to point, emphasizing the need to swoop instead.

“You never want to point as an auctioneer because you end up looking like a teacher who’s telling people what to do,” she said.

“You want to invite them into the auction. So your hand goes down underneath their face, so if you look into the audience right now, you’re basically welcoming them in, and you want a quick hand motion, like that,” she said, while making the gesture.

Savannah and Lydia Fenet did their best to stay in sync.
Savannah and Lydia Fenet did their best to stay in sync.TODAY

How to handle a tie

Auctions may move quickly and people can raise their paddles at the same time. Fenet had a simple solution for how to address that.

“You just go to the first one you see,” she said. “And I always do it really quickly at the beginning, so $500, $1,000, $1,500, and then you get to a point where, like, people start to slow. And that’s when you can kind of start talking to the audience.”

Pile on the charm

Once someone has put in a bid, Fenet said it’s all about cozying up to him or her in order to help the money flow.

“So you’re like, ‘Forty-five hundred dollars to the gentleman in the front. You know, I saw you when you walked in tonight, and I thought to myself, “This man is a $10,000 bidder. So how’s five?” Make it about them at that point, because that’s what’s going to keep them bidding,” she said.

Savannah gave it her all to raise even more money for a good cause.
Savannah gave it her all to raise even more money for a good cause.TODAY

‘Bring the energy’

Savannah was then put to the test, co-auctioneering the annual Reading Partners’ One for the Books event at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. Reading Partners is a program that offers free tutoring to help students read at grade level

“This is harder than any live shot I’ve ever done,” she said before the auction took place.

Fenet also had some last-minute advice for Savannah.

“I always try to remember that I have to bring the energy that I want from the room,” she said.

“Is this one of those fake it till you make it moments?” Savannah asked.

“Kind of, yeah,” she said, laughing.

Fenet went to work, first auctioning off a lot, which can mean an individual object or multiple items sold together. Savannah then took the stage, set to auction two lots, one of which included a dinner with Charlie Mitchell, the first Black American Michelin star chef, and hand-delivered cheesesteaks from Roots frontman Questlove.

Savannah gave it her best effort, leading the auction while Fenet helped, and bidding for the cheesesteaks soared to $7,500.

"Congratulations. Whenever you’re having this dinner, I am available," Savannah joked.