The pressure is on, you need to make a business phone call. Your palms sweat, your heart beats – will you remember everything you have to say? Will you come across as in control and confident, or nervous and timid?
What makes a phone call so stressful? It’s the lack of visual clues and lack of eye contact. Face-to-face conversation is about so much more than the words, apparently about 93 percent more. So when you’re on the phone, you’ve only got the words and tone of voice to help the conversation along. Misunderstanding, mis-hearings and mistakes are often made.
If it’s an important business call, whether it’s an interview, a conference call or a call sealing an important deal, make sure you are prepared. Take time, as long as you feel necessary, to gather together documents you may need to refer to or to write down important questions you need answers to. If you need to, you could even try scripting a few crucial sentences. Be careful not to sound too robotic when speaking them, though. What’s the most important thing you need to prepare? Make sure you know the name of the person you are calling!
Find Somewhere Quiet
The last things you need are distractions. Don’t have the television or radio on in the background. If you work in a busy office, try to book a meeting room for the most important calls. It will help the recipient hear what you have to say, and vice versa. Schedule the call for a quiet time of day, or when you’re not going to want to finish quickly to get off to lunch, or to leave the office and go home.
Make sure you introduce yourself clearly. Many people stumble over their own name and job title. Use your full job title and say the name of your company with pride. This will instil confidence in the receiver’s mind.
Speak Slowly and Loudly
Radio announcers speak at a very slow 30 words a minute, which is only one word every two seconds! You may not have to speak that slowly, but you should definitely try to slow down your regular speed, which means that every word is clear and audible. It also makes you sound confident and sure of yourself. It doesn’t hurt to speak loudly, too, as the line could be bad or the volume settings on one or other phone may be set too low.
Easier said than done? Here are some tips on feeling confident. Smile when you talk; it comes across in the tone of your voice. If you’re prepared and speak slowly, this will help you sound more confident. Be prepared to admit when you don’t know. By revealing boundaries to your knowledge, it will make you sound more realistic.
You should keep notes throughout a business call. This will help you sum up the main points at the end, so you can recap exactly what will happen and who will do what next after the call ends.
Charlie Adams is a marketing pro and technology entrepreneur who loves to generate content with the intent of helping other business professionals establish and maintain good contacts.
Photo Credit: Direct Annuaires Stephan Comelli