Phoning It In: A Workers Guide To Telephone Effectiveness

A modern and simple truth:
More people conduct business by phone than by face-to-face meetings.

It’s quicker, less expensive, less intrusive and it even comes with a “Mute Button.”
Despite the frequency of these phone calls, most business persons do not properly recognize the dynamics of such communication and how to get the most out of each call.

Here are some things to remember:

  • The person on the other end of the phone cannot see you. Therefore, your body language, gesticulating and pointing is meaningless.
  • A call’s success will be decided on only two things: 1) your voice and 2) your content.
  • Your voice: elocution basics like inflection, pentameter, volume, speed and enunciation are going to filter and influence your message. The better the conduit, the faster and cleaner the message.
  • Your content: no one wants to hear long-winded, circuitous meanderings. Get to the point and don’t step on everyone else’s words (let others comment and question).
  • Reflect an upbeat attitude in your voice. An animated receptionist that speaks clearly and listens well is a wonderful reflection of a professional organization. A telephone answerer that is short, curt, rude and who mumbles at 150 miles per hour is a mess.
  • Never eat anything while you are on the phone. We can hear every chew…and now I am hungry.
  • Pick up the phone after no more than 3 rings. Let’s face it, you are not that important. If you were, you would have a secretary screening your calls.
  • Don’t put your hand over the mouthpiece while you speak to the (apparently more important) person that just walked into your office. We really can hear every word…even the juicy ones. Better to politely put us on hold or to not stop the conversation.
  • Avoid profanity. There is no safe haven for the listener to escape to and it’s just not professional.
  • Always tell the other party when you are putting them on speakerphone. You never know when “Mr. Bad Comb-Over” or “Ms. Slut-face” will unexpectedly walk-in.
  • Don’t read the newspaper or finish your budget while on the phone with me. I can tell when you are distracted. Perhaps, one clue was when you didn’t respond to my first six questions.
  • It’s OK to pause or have a little dead air. Not every millisecond needs to be filled with noise. Just avoid extra long (more than 30 seconds) or frequent gaps.
  • Never (except a medical emergency) put your client on hold due to call-waiting.
  • As you conclude, re-confirm the follow-up and each participant’s assignment.
  • Make sure that the phone is off before you start mocking the participants.
  • Today’s Tip: “Call” it what you want, but good telephone skills = great business. If the listener can’t focus on anything but your voice…your hodgepodge of words, slurs, pauses, stumbles, stammers, and mumbles will become even more apparent. Impress the other party with well chosen and animated phrases. If you can be articulate, inviting and interesting, you will establish a great “connection” with your client and avoid many types of “disconnects.”

    Leave a Reply