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Phone Tips to Get Things Done: Professional Phone Skills


by John Robertson

It happens all the time, you hear someone over the telephone and you make a generalization about the person you are speaking with. It may not be fair and it is akin to judging a book by its cover, but it's true nevertheless.

Within 60 seconds, people will make assumptions about one's education, background, ability and personality based on their voice alone.

What type of impression is your "phone" voice making? Indeed there are two areas you should be aware of when speaking. One is "what' you say, the other the "how" you say it. Studies show that as much as 87% of the listener's opinion of you is based on your voice alone. That leaves only 13% allocated to what we are saying to make a positive impression. With numbers like these it is easy to see why your voice is so important in your career and personal life.

Today we live in a "voice mail" environment. We are playing "phone tag", leaving messages and listening to voice mails left by others. It may take as many as 3-4 tries before actual contact is made and you have a conversation. By the time you do connect, you can be assured that other party already has formed an impression about you.

The following are some tips that will help you improve your phone voice and technique.

1. Third Ring Rule: Answer the phone by the third ring or make sure you voice mail is set to pick up by the third ring. Today people are not inclined to wait much longer and will assume you are not available and hang up. Remember, as much as we think we don't like voice mail, we like the option of leaving a message.

2. Professional Greeting: Remember the 87% rule above and make a good impression. Be aware of what you are going to say in the greeting. Then practice and rehearse BEFORE you leave the greeting on your answering machine. Be short and to the point. Don't drag out the greeting. It is obvious you are "Out of the office or away from your desk" otherwise you would answer your phone. Consider leaving such statements out of your greeting unless you are actually away from the office, then say so and leave a date for your return. I recommend that you leave clear instructions as to what information you need from the caller. Reminder the caller to leave their phone number, best time to return the call and a brief subject.

3. Prepare then Answer: Have a note pad and pen by your phone at all times. Write down the caller's name and use it during the conversation.

4. Be an active listener: Take notes, ask for correct spelling, etc.

5. Promptly return calls: Make it your personal goal that you will be one that returns phone calls. This may very well be the most professional characteristic of all you can develop. Set a goal to return phone calls within 4 hours, it will make a positive statement about you and your image.

6. Check you messages: Check your messages several times a day. Learn how to dial in from a remote phone to get your voice mails. Many times the caller is facing a deadline and your information may be crucial for them to complete their assignment.

It's A Two Way Street. When You Leave Messages For Others Remember These Tips:

1. Slow down: Don't speak too fast. Slow down when you are leaving a message, especially if you have an accent. If you make your message hard to understand or if the listener has to replay it several times to get your message your reputation is slipping in their mind.

2. Clearly say your name: Make absolutely sure the caller will understand your name. Consider spelling your name if hard to pronounce or is not a common name.

3. S-L-O-W down: When leaving your phone number go slow. Most likely the listener is writing down your number, make it easy for them to do so. Repeat the number. Consider saying your number at the beginning and end of your voice mail. People will appreciate this.

4. Leave your name, company name and reason: Leave the listener with all the information they will need to know about you. Don't make them guess. Always leave the reason you are calling. It is very unprofessional to just leave a message simply saying "give me a call"

5. Make it easy for them to return your call: Tell them a good time to return your call. Give them a date, time and phone number.

6. Be professional: People do judge you by the tone of your voice. Increase your image by sounding professional in everything you do over the phone

Remember that you won't be able to avoid phone tag, but you can definitely put things in your favor by doing several small things that will make a BIG difference in your image.

For more details on Business Communications, including effective email and voice mail use contact

John Robertson is a Professional Trainer with over 20 years experience in Mid to
Sr. Level Management in several Fortune 500 companies. His real world
experience will bring credibility to your meetings. TrainingConnections.Org
focuses on three major categories of Employee Performance Improvement;
Leadership, Management and Sales Training. Contact us today for more
information or check our web site.

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