My Top 10 Phone Tips (Part 1)

Posted by Todd Smith

Read Part 2


How many of you make judgments about people based on how they sound on the telephone? Because people cannot see us over the phone, they will form these opinions based on not only what we say, but also on how we say it.

If you stop to think about how much business is transacted over the phone on any given day, it’s wise to be conscious of your telephone-speaking voice, the words you use, and how you conduct yourself during a call. Today’s lesson is the first of a two-part series to help you make a positive impression on the phone.

1. Prepare for the Call—When I make business-related calls, I always take the time to prepare. I’ve found that the more prepared I am for a call, the more confident and ready I am for the ensuing discussion. If it’s a simple call, I may take as little as a minute or two to think about my agenda and get mentally prepared. If, on the other hand, it’s a very important call, I may spend as long as thirty minutes preparing.

Let me encourage you to start thinking about every call you make and see what you can do to be better prepared.

2. Always Begin by Introducing Yourself—When you place a call to someone, always start by introducing yourself to whoever answers the phone. Here are four different examples:

  • If I call a person at a company and the phone is answered by someone other than the person I am calling, I will introduce myself by saying, “Hi, this is Todd Smith calling for Mike Black. Is Mike available?”
  • Using the same example, if I have a call previously scheduled with Mike, I would reference the appointment in my greeting by saying, “Hi, my name is Todd Smith.  I am calling for Mike Black. We have a 2:00 call scheduled.” By mentioning that you have a specific appointment, the call will take on some urgency.
  • Using the same example, if Mary answers the phone and identifies herself, I suggest including her name in your greeting, such as, “Hi, Mary. My name is Todd Smith. How are you doing today?” After we exchange pleasantries, I would proceed by saying, “I am calling for Mike Black. We have a 2:00 call scheduled.”

Not only should you be friendly to everyone you meet, whether it’s in person or over the phone, but it is especially important to be nice to the receptionist or personal assistant of the person you are calling. This person generally has influence, and making a positive impression on this person will always help.

  • If the person you are calling answers the phone, begin by introducing yourself as part of a friendly greeting, such as, “Hi, Mike, this is Todd Smith. How are you doing today?” You never want someone to wonder who’s calling.

3. Focus on Your Phone Energy—This past week, I spoke on the phone with a woman in the sales industry who was struggling with her career. On the phone, she spoke slowly with a very soft, quiet voice. As I listened to her talk, I thought to myself, “I have never met anyone who was highly successful who spoke slowly with a soft, quiet tone.”

I am not suggesting that you have to go over the top with your energy, voice tone, and speed, but I believe it is important to sound like you are happy to be alive, that you are enjoying a successful career, and that you are genuinely pleased to be speaking to the other person.

People who sound upbeat and positive almost always make a better impression than those who don’t. And if you are in outside sales, I don’t think there is a prayer of succeeding if you don’t present yourself as I’ve just described.

4. Be Friendly—Whether you are talking to a co-worker, friend, prospective client, or the CEO of a company with whom you are interviewing, you should always strive to be friendly on the phone. As you may recall from my post How Likable Are You, people are naturally drawn to people who are likable.

In the business and political world, people who are likable have a clear advantage. The more you speak with a smile on your face and with a friendly tone, the more people will like you and want to do business with you and/or your company.

5. Make the Other Person Feel Comfortable—When speaking with people for the first time, in some cases, you may sense they are a little uncomfortable. This is especially true when you are on the receiving end of someone’s call. When I sense people are a little uneasy, I always try to be extra friendly to make them feel comfortable. This additional effort almost always allows the person to relax and results in a more engaging conversation.

Tomorrow, I will give you five more tips to incorporate into your phone conversations. In the meantime, perform a little self-evaluation when you are on the phone today. How would you rate your tone, energy level, and etiquette?

“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives”- Anthony Robbins

To read part 2 click here

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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