How to use a phone with confidence

American adults do not feel comfortable using the phone at work, according to a recent TollFreeForwarding.com survey. So how can we pick up the phone without fretting? We take a look at the stats, and offer you all the steps you need to make your next phone call a winner.

U.S businesses hanging up

Communication has always been integral for the daily operation of a business. It makes, improves and retains relationships, which have huge influence over a business’s profitability.  Today’s communication technology has advanced rapidly, with instant messaging, social media and video calls offering diverse options. Nonetheless, face-to-face communication and phone calls remain indispensable ways to communicate with customers, clients and colleagues.

We asked American business workers to share which method of communication they prefer to use at work, and found that only 6.5% of the American business force aged 25-34 feel comfortable using a phone. Of the three most essential methods of communication in companies – phones, face-to-face and e-mail – phone calls are the least favourite option.

 

 

Method of communication graph

Figure 1.

What method of communication do you feel most comfortable with at work?

 

 

Younger employees struggle the most when it comes to making phone calls, with one in five employees under the age of 24 feeling anxious about each phone call they make. The fear of phones does decrease with age and experience, as 65% of employees aged 55 and over have no issues making phone calls.

 

 

Fears about phone calls

Figure 2.

Do you ever have any fears about making phone calls?

 

 

So, how can we make the new age of business workers feel as confident when picking up the phone? We offer our phone guide to make the perfect professional call:

A guide to the perfect phone call

 

Smartphone Graphic

1.     Prep for it

A lot of concerns and anxiety can be alleviated by preparing your calls. By having a strong idea of the questions you need answers to, and the topics to cover, you will find navigating through the call much easier. Here are a few questions to consider before making the call:

  • Do you have a clear objective? You will get the most out of a phone call if you focus on a meaningful call objective. This will save time and help you stay focused and concise.

 

  • Do you have bullet points? In order to start your conversation with confidence, it’s helpful to have a few lines written down outlining what you want to say in the call. It will help you remember key points without sounding too stiff.

 

  • Who are you calling? Depending on the nature of your phone call, you can research the individual or company you are trying to call. This will help you tailor the conversation to an individual.

 

2.     Sit comfortably

It’s important that you’re comfortable in your surroundings. If you feel better talking alone, book out a meeting room or separate area. Also, make sure you have a glass of water to hand and a notepad and pen in front of you. Taking further notes will prove helpful for your next steps and follow-up calls.

 

 

3.     Make the call

Importantly, avoid launching straight into your business agenda. Instead, open the call in a friendly and interested way, asking light questions about your contact’s day. This ensures that you are both comfortable to move on to the points at hand without confusion or rushing.

 

 

4.     Speak clearly

Sometimes the anticipation of making a phone call is the worst part. Once you have introduced yourself and stated your objective keep the following tips in mind during the conversation:

  • Be concise: If you find that you are filling your sentences with words like ‘umm’ or repeating yourself, it’s best to look at your bullet points and make sure that what you’re saying is relevant to those areas.

 

  • Speak slowly: This will give you more time to think about the points you want to make. It might feel unnatural at first to deliberately speak slower, but in due time you will feel and sound more self-assured.

 

  • Ask questions: People fear that asking questions will make them look inexperienced, but it actually signals that you are listening closely.

 

5.     Speak positively

The person on the other line does not have any visual clues, like body language, to assess your confidence or investment in your conversation, so be sure to make a good impression with your voice. Use volume, pace and tone to come across as both positive and approachable:

  • Show enthusiasm

Approach every single phone call with enthusiasm. A positive attitude is contagious and people will warm up to you. Body language is also an important factor in appearing more confident over the phone so sit tall, and imagine that the person is sitting right in front of you.

  • Speak with a smile

A smile can be heard over the phone, which will create a friendly and positive atmosphere.

 

 

6.     End on a high

Once you have achieved what you needed from the phone call, it is time to round off. Agree on your next steps together, conclude by summing up the main points that you have both covered.

Make sure the other person feels they have all the information they needed from the call, then finish with a positive goodbye.

 

 

Expert Opinion

 

 

Jason from TollFreeForwarding.com

“Sales are made in every interaction you have with your clients and customers. Effective communication builds strong relationships and relationships are the basis for strong sales. It is essential to be confident about yourself and your product”

 

 

 

Bruce Woodcock, Careers and Employability Service, University of Kent

“When phoning somebody, just be yourself, try to relax and don’t panic. Smile when you dial! (and, more importantly, when you speak): it really does make a difference to your tone of voice. When you talk face to face, you show that you are listening via non-verbal signals such as nodding your head but over the phone you have to show this by the occasional ‘OK’, ‘uh-huh’, ‘I see’, ‘I understand’ and ‘yes’ but you can’t keep saying ‘uh-huh’ or ‘yes’ for too long without sounding false, so reflect back what the speaker is saying in other words. This shows you’re listening carefully and trying to understand. It is the most useful way of giving positive feedback to someone: ‘I hear what you’re saying and take you seriously’. ”

 

 

 

Laura DeCarlo, careerdirectors.com

“Have a script before making your call. Consider the different ways the call might go – getting voicemail, etc. – and then plan for different scenarios. Don’t be embarrassed to practice this and increase your comfort with making the call!

Keep a small mirror in front of you so that you can remember to smile while making your call. It will immediately make you sound self-assured, comfortable, friendly, and upbeat. It works every time, but again, practice makes perfect.

Visualize the call going well in advance. Take time each night to close your eyes and envision the call happening – what you would say, what the employment would say – and see it going wonderfully. If you give it enough detail, your brain will believe it. Do this enough, and you will be ever so confident in your calls.

Just make the call. Don’t give up on awesome opportunities because you weren’t comfortable. We have to learn to walk before we can run, and the first call is your first step to greatness!”

 

 

 

It is very common to feel uncomfortable on the phone, especially if you are shy but remember practice makes perfect! It takes time to develop and improve skills but it is very rewarding and can have a positive impact on your career in the long run.

 

Do you have any tips for making the perfect phone call? Why not tell us @tffsocial

 

 

You can also take our quiz to find out what your own phone personality is!