“When you’re prepared, you’re more confident. When you have a strategy, you’re more comfortable.” Fred Couples
Speaking on the phone has a lot in common with public speaking. And according to a wide variety of studies and surveys, public speaking is the #1 fear of North Americans. So it’s no surprise that the majority of people are uncomfortable, nervous, anxious and in some cases totally afraid of talking on the phone.
Which leads me to ask “Would you get up in front of a room full of people for a presentation or speech and not prepare beforehand?” Very few of you would answer “yes” to this question.
So if you have any level of discomfort around phone calls, give yourself the power of preparation. A myth exists that “anyone can talk on the phone” – and this simply isn’t true. But often, because the myth is so prevalent, people deny themselves the tools they need to pick it up and communicate effectively.
Here’s a thought: If you have important calls to make and you’re nervous, practice what you want to say – out loud. Don’t start by writing it down because the majority of the time how we write – pacing, words we choose, etc – doesn’t translate well when spoken.
While you practice, use a digital recorder, your phone or voice mail to record yourself and listen to the results. You’ll be able to hear the impact of your tone of voice as well as if you’re rambling or perhaps continually using fillers such as “like” or “uhm”.
Keep practising this way until you’re happy with the result. You can even ask a friend or colleague to practice with you and give you their feedback. This is what it takes to be a great public speaker and it’s no different when it comes to effective phone communication.
Once you’re happy with your spoken conversation, certainly write it out for yourself, but when you go to make the calls, don’t keep the word-for-word version in front of you. Instead use an index card or a coloured piece of paper to write out the key words or phrases. Allow plenty of space between each one. You don’t want to read to the people you are calling, you want to have a conversation with them. The words you have in front of you will help you stay focused and calm; the space around the words will remind you to respond to what you hear, create conversation.
Skilled, effective communicators practice their craft, regardless of whether it’s a speech or a phone call.
P.S. The #2 fear after public speaking is death. Here’s Jerry Seinfeld’s very funny 27-second take on this: http://youtu.be/yQ6giVKp9ec
Enjoy your PhoneWork everyone!