Talking on the phone is very different from speaking in person. For some people it is easy, but for others it is an acquired skill. Some people feel anxious when it comes to talking on the phone due to difficulty hearing someone's voice and not seeing their body language. If you want to get better at talking on the phone, there are some things you can do to prepare for your next phone call that can help.
Method 1 of 3: Talk to Friends and Family
Step 1. Have some conversation starters in mind before picking up the phone to call someone
You can even write them down if you want. Don't write a complete sentence, as the last thing you want to do is read a script. Write just a few words that remind you of what you want to talk about. If you don't have something in particular that you want to talk to your friend or family member about, here are some ideas:
- Read the newspaper or watch the news, and see what happens in the world. That way, you can talk about some current events.
- Talk about a movie or show that you both have seen that you liked or disliked, and what you both think about it.
- Share a funny or interesting incident that happened to you, either recently or a long time ago.
- Ask the other person about an event in their life that is recent or current and noteworthy.
Step 2. Determine how long the call could take
The length of informal phone calls can vary quite a bit and the person you speak to is an important factor in this. If it's someone you haven't talked to in a while or if it's someone you don't see often, a lengthy conversation may be necessary. If it's about a friend you see every week, you probably don't have a lot to share, so the call won't last long.
The benefit of knowing about how long that call will last in advance is that you can avoid ending it too soon or talking too long by preparing topics for conversation appropriately
Step 3. Don't talk too much
If you don't have much to say, allow the other person to talk most of the time and just keep the conversation flowing. Don't interrupt when the other person talks in such a way that you let them express themselves. An important part of having a successful phone call is simply having good listening skills.
It can also be helpful to have a few questions ready to ask, especially when the conversation falls silent. Some possible questions are:
- How was your day?
- How is your job going?
- How was the weekend?
- Have you worked on a project recently?
- Have you seen any good movies recently?
Step 4. Determine when and how the phone call will end
You should not spoil a pleasant conversation. The goal will be to hang up the phone call with the other person and think “What a nice conversation! I have to call him again sometime!”
- When you are about to end a call, it can usually feel like there are more frequent pauses in the conversation and that interesting topics have been exhausted. The personality of the person you speak with, as well as how often you meet and speak in person, will be important factors in the length of the conversation.
- Once you have the feeling that the conversation is reaching a natural end point, end the call gracefully, similar to if you were speaking to someone in person and had to leave. The structure of the end of the calls should be similar to: a positive statement about the talk, optionally add what you are going to do next, then mention that you would like to speak again and finally say goodbye. For example, you can say, “It was good talking to you. I have dinner to make, but I hope we talk again soon. Bye". Of course, between each statement, let the other person answer first.
Method 2 of 3: Make a formal call
Step 1. Keep in mind what the purpose of the call is
A formal call can be anything where you call to make an appointment with the dentist to another call where you want to talk to a client about a job. The purpose of the call will determine how you will prepare for it. Most formal calls will fit into one of the following categories.
- Call to a client. From receptionists to members of a sales team, there are various jobs where you will have to make and receive a lot of calls from current and potential customers.
- Call to schedule appointments. Sometimes you will need to make a call to schedule an appointment, the reasons for which can range from seeing the dentist to changing the oil in your car.
- Call for work. This includes anything from calling work to report sick to calling your boss to discuss a recent job development.
Step 2. Plan all the important things you have to say and talk on that call
Once you have determined what the purpose is, you will need to plan what to say. There will be certain important topics and questions that you will need to address at some point during the phone call, so it is best to prepare in advance.
Step 3. Keep your statements short and simple
Often times, it's best to let the other person lead the conversation, especially if it is a client or someone who has a higher position at your job. Remember that a successful phone call is a dialogue, not just to communicate what you have to say. Allow time for the other person to respond to your statements and questions and follow up on your responses rather than simply moving on to the next topic.
Step 4. Stay polite and at least semi-formal
In the case of formal phone calls, you should have a different tone than the one you use in your speech on an informal call, in the same way that you speak differently at your friends' house than in a meeting. Here are some basic tips for formal phone calls:
- Don't use jargon or informal speech.
- Mention the name of the other person's appropriate title when you say hello.
- If you have to put a customer on hold, ask for permission first.
- Speak clearly and slowly enough to be heard.
- If you don't get what the other person said, don't say "what?" Say "Sorry, I didn't understand what you said" or "Excuse me?"
Method 3 of 3: Reduce Anxiety When Talking on the Phone
Step 1. Pay attention to your own body language
Just because you can't see the other person's body language doesn't mean yours isn't important. It may help to walk while you talk or make gestures with your free hand. Smiling as you speak will help you appear friendly and open, and it will also make you feel more friendly and open.
Some people also find it helpful to look in the mirror while talking on the phone
Step 2. Relax
Before making the call or answering the phone, take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed. If you have a little routine that helps you relax, use it before or during the call.
Step 3. Practice
As with all things, practice makes perfect. If you really want to get better at talking on the phone without getting nervous, get a job that primarily involves taking phone calls. Over time, it will go from being something that induces apprehension and fear to something that you can do without even thinking about it. You can also practice calling your friends or family just to talk. Keep your conversations short so you don't have to worry about taking a long time.
Step 4. Use prepared lines
If you have to make phone calls for your work on a regular basis and have trouble overcoming anxiety while making them, it can be helpful to prepare a few lines. It is best not to rely on those lines as an aid; however, they can be helpful when you start out. They can help you start the dialogue and give you something to fall back on when you're not sure what to say.
For calling customers, these lines might be something like "I hope you enjoyed doing business with us" or "Thank you for calling (blank), how can I help you?"
- Don't hang up on the person, and if you do, call back immediately.
- Try to praise the person you are talking to, often that gets them talking.
- If you use a cell phone, be sure to exceed your minutes.
Avoid calling the person on a daily basis if it is not necessary, as there may be times when they are busy.