When it comes to phones and communication we have reached an era where most of us can not even remember life without a mobile phone. We have become reliant on phones for social and work related matters and that is why having a good phone manner and being a competent communicator has never been more important. Here are our top ten tips for ensuring effective phone communication.
1. Voice and tone
Having a good positive tone and a clear voice is essential, whether you are on the phone to colleagues, clients or your boss. Smiling whilst talking will also enhance your tone, however ensure that you don’t over do the smiling as getting over excited could make your voice sound high pitched. For example in our PR department the team are often on the phone to journalists and editors who are on constant deadlines. The team are skilled in retaining a calm and firm tone which when faced with a stressed out journalist results in a quick and efficient call.
2. Research and plan
If you are going to be speaking to someone important or if you are going to be making a call that is significant it is essential to plan your call. A few bullet points, perhaps a few questions and a few answers lined up for their questions can be very helpful. For example our sales team always plan their calls to prospective clients; we try not to use a new business script as that can make them sound too ‘salesy’. They research the person they are speaking to, make a few pointers which results in a successful call.
Researching and planning your call as mentioned above will no doubt make your call a more confident one. There are other ways of gaining confidence such as practising a call with someone, keep your tone clear and prevent your voice from becoming hushed as this can make you sound quiet and unconfident. Practice will ultimately make perfection.
One of the most frustrating calls that most people experience is when the person you are talking to doesn’t listen or pause for your comments. This is what we like to label as a phone bombardment; it is what makes people not want to speak to you at all. Leaving casual gaps whilst you are talking is vital, especially after asking a question – pause and allow the person to think and respond.
If you are making a call to someone for the first time then mirroring can be very useful. Listen to the person you are talking to and mirror their speed, voice, tone and volume and this will make them feel comfortable and at ease. For example when our designers talk to a new client for the first time they usually spend most of the conversation asking questions and listening and then mirroring them to allow a smoother and more confident dialogue.
As with any skill when it comes to the art of the phone conversation improving it is just as important. Why not ask for a colleague to listen in on a conversation now and again, they might pick up a few slip ups or bad phone habits that you may not have noticed. Also recording your voice on recorder can provide some insight on where you can improve.
7. Get personal
When making your next important call try and use their name within the conversation, this personal touch can make them feel the call is focused on them. For example when our PR team speak to the press they ensure that they use their name in the conversation as this automatically makes the journalist feel connected to our team member.
8. Don’t give up
When it comes to personal or business related calls there are times when you might have a conversation that is not that successful, there could be a number of reasons why that may of happened – but don’t give up! All situations can be rectified with a positive call, email or even a visit. For example our new business experts do occasionally come across awkward situations, but by being transparent, firm and calm results in clear and concise conversation.
9. Be quick on the mark
Being quick on the mark whilst on the phone can be tricky but not impossible. If you have researched the person you are calling, planned the questions – they still may ask you a question that could throw you. At times like this prepare a few re-usable phrases such as ‘That is a good question, I am glad you asked it and after our conversation I will look in to it and email a response over to you.’ Not only is this a professional way of dealing with the situation but it will show that you are confident and calm.
10. Enjoy it!
Simple and effective, if you are enjoying the phone conversation it will show in your voice, you will sound happy and it will make the person you are talking to feel positive and happy too!
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