In our global market place we are now conducting business with people we have not and may never meet. That means that now more than ever, being able to communicate in a clear and professional manner on the phone is critical to success in today’s business world. However, strong telephone communication is more complicated than many people realize. Experts say that up to 90% of communication is non-verbal. This means that talking on the telephone can be a particularly challenging communication task, since all of that non-verbal support is removed. However, there are ways you can compensate for the loss of that non-verbal communication and make sure you leave an impression each and every time you speak on the phone.
The most important rule for telephone communication is also the simplest: speak slowly and clearly. Many people are unsure of their telephone communication skills; because of this, they have a tendency to speak rapidly, making their speech difficult to understand. Simply introducing one’s name can be lost in the rapid delivery. During telephone conversations, make an effort to speak a little more slowly than usual, and make sure that you are pronouncing each letter of every word. It is also critical to speak as clearly as possible. Because the other person can’t see your mouth, clear, crisp communication is even more important than usual. Enunciate each syllable and pronounce each letter of every word (especially the consonants at the end of a word).
When you are spelling a name or giving an e-mail address be sure to provide examples for difficult to understand letters. Some letters can be easily mistaken for one another over the phone, for example, P and T, M and N, and T and D. Examples can help avoid misunderstandings and make sure that critical contact information isn’t lost. For instance, “My e-mail address is B- as in boy, O- B- as in boy, R- D- as in dog at gmail dot com.”
Another important way to compensate for the lack of non-verbal communication is with the tone of your voice. Since the listener is unable to see your face , making an impression with your speaking style is crucial. New research shows the sound of a person’s voice strongly influences how he or she is seen. According to Quantifed Impression, an Austin, Texas communications analytics company, the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the content of the message. When was the last time you thought about the tone with which you were conveying your message? A strong, smooth voice can enhance your chances of rising to CEO. On the other hand, a nasal whine, a raspy tone or strident volume can drive colleagues to distraction according to an article in the Wall Street Journal published in April, 2013.
Even though the person you’re talking to can’t see you, you should sit up straight or even stand up when speaking on the phone. Posture can affect your breath support and poor posture can result in a weak voice. In addition, your position can have a psychological effect on the way you communicate. If you are in a reclined or slouched position, you may be more likely to sound overly casual and relaxed. Standing up or sitting straight will help you sound more energetic.
There are innumerable times that the telephone sets the tone for future opportunity. Whether conducting a teleconference, interviewing remotely for a position, or reaching out to future clients, a telephone conversation can often make or break an opportunity. By taking the time to improve your telephone communication skills, you can establish your professional credibility, improve the clarity of your message, and create an atmosphere where both parties look forward to reconnecting in the future.
If you are interested in learning more ways to improve your telephone communication skills, contact Jayne at [email protected] to receive our free handout, Sixteen Tips to Excel on the Telephone.
In the meantime visit, www.corporatespeechsolutions.com, to learn more.
About the Author
Jayne Latz is an expert in communication and CEO of Corporate Speech Solutions, LLC. She has worked as a speech trainer, coach, professional speaker, and has co-authored two books titled, Talking Business: A Guide to Professional Communication and Talking Business: When English is Your Second Language. She was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal and on The TODAY Show.