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Top Tips for Speaking on the Phone at Work

Learning to speak confidently and coherently to clients and colleagues on the phone is often one of the most daunting things about working in an office.

But, fear not! Just follow our top tips and you’ll soon be just as relaxed chatting away in the office to clients as you are in your bedroom on the phone to friends.

1. First impressions matter

One of the first things to master is how you open a conversation on the phone. If picking up the phone, know exactly how you are meant to be answering it. This could be the name of the company, your position, name or answering for a certain department or manager.

Being confident in your tone will mean that you open with an upbeat air of certainty and should remove any apprehensions you have about answering the phone in the first place.

If calling someone, know the name of the person you want to speak to and how you intend to open the conversation. For example, “Hi there, may I please speak with __________? Hi _______, How are you doing today? I am calling on behalf of XYZ company in regards to XYZ matter. Is this a suitable time to talk?”

2. Confidence is key

Even if you know exactly what you’re going to say on the phone and have the exact script in front of you, you’re not going to impress anyone if you don’t speak confidently. Confidence makes all the difference between coming across as an experienced professional and appearing like a brand new intern.

To feel confident prior to making (or receiving) an important phone call at work, position yourself in a power pose and repeat a positive affirmation to yourself. These methods have been proven to give people an automatic confidence boost and will work wonders for your confidence before your call.

3. Get excited and interested

Whether you’re negotiating high-stakes deals or selling carpets, you need to be passionate about your work. Remember that they can’t see you, meaning your passion needs to be conveyed purely through your voice.

A trick here is to smile whilst speaking – however ridiculous it might sound, this does translate through to your voice and will make you seem more upbeat and positive to the person at the other end of the line.

4. Let them do the talking

Whilst the main reason for making a call (especially if you’re selling or negotiating) seems like it ought to be in order for you to talk and get your point of view across, it’s actually better to let the other person do most of the talking.

This will make you appear interested in what they have to say, giving them an ego boost and subconsciously improving their opinion of you. Once you have gained this rapport, the caller will be much more responsive to what you are offering or negotiating.

5. Never admit that you ‘don’t know’

When speaking to clients or dealing with anyone external to your company, never reveal gaps in your knowledge where you can help it and don’t just say ‘I don’t know’ without providing a solution.

Substitute this for phrases such as “Let me clarify this with my manager for you,” and “If you can give me your number, I’ll be able to check this straight away and call you back.”

6. Stay professional

Remember that regardless of whether you’re asking after a client’s family or chatting about football with a customer, you must remain professional at all times. This extends beyond the opinions you express and topics you discuss to the actual way that you speak.

Try not to slip into too many colloquialisms that may become alienating and avoid bad and potentially offensive language at all times.

7. Remember that no one else is listening

One of the biggest worries when starting a new job where you spend a lot of time on the phone is that everyone else is listening.

This is a fear that it’s best to overcome as soon as possible – remember that everyone else is getting on with their own work and really don’t care about the conversations you’re having. It may sound harsh, but when audible to others on the phone at work we tend to think that people care and are paying far more attention to us than in fact they actually are.

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About the Author Alexandra Jane

Alexandra Jane writes graduate careers advice for Inspiring Interns, who specialize in matching candidates to their dream internship. Check out their graduate jobs listings for roles.