They say you can't judge a
book by its cover but how many of us make judgments about people just based on
their telephone speaking voice? People form opinions and make judgments about
us in the first 60 seconds they see us. People also make judgments about us based
on the way we sound on the telephone.
Because people cannot "see"
us over the telephone they will form these opinions based not only what we say,
but also on "how" we say it. In fact the message we communicate over the telephone
is based on two qualities; (1) "What" we say (Verbal) and (2) "How" we say it.
Several studies have indicated that as much as 87% of the opinions people form
about us, when speaking to us on the telephone, are based on the tone of our
voice. Only 13% is based on the actual words we use. We all do this. People
can "hear" our personality and mannerisms through the tone of our voice.
We live in a world of answering
machines and "voice mail". This is especially true in the business world. How
many of us find ourselves playing "telephone tag" with each other. By the time
you actually speak with the person you were trying to contact you've left 2
or 3 messages. In those short message exchanges, the party on the other line
has already formed an opinion about you based solely on your speaking voice.
In order that people form a good image about you here are some tips, which can
help your spoken image.
Tips when "Answering"
the telephone call:
- Answer the telephone
by the third ring - Answer the telephone or make sure your answering machine
picks up the telephone by the third or fourth ring. Do not let the telephone
ring and ring. Many of us say how we "hate" speaking into these answering
machines, but at the same time we also hate not having the option of leaving
- Make sure your greeting
is professional - Make sure your greeting is short but very professional.
Write down and practice your greeting several times before you actually record
your greeting. Play it back and listen to your own speaking voice. Is your
message too fast? Is it too slow? Make sure your greeting sounds professional
and clear. Give the caller clear instructions what to do when leaving their
- Be prepared before
you answer the telephone - Have a pad of paper and pencil ready when you
answer your telephone. Be prepared to be an "active" listener and take notes
when someone calls. Especially write down the person's name that has called
so you can use their name during your conversation with them. People "love"
to hear their name.
- Be an "active" listener
- Take notes as you speak. Let the people know you are taking notes and this
will signal them not to speak too fast. Ask for the correct spelling of their
name. Don't assume their name is spelled the same as others. It may have a
- Return telephone
calls promptly! - To me, this is the most professional telephone habit
people should possess. Be that person who DOES return telephone calls. Many
people DO NOT return telephone calls! I have left numerous messages with people
and companies whom DO NOT return telephone calls. Quite often I have received
a call from someone asking to order one of my products and I spend days, even
weeks trying to contact them. I always try and return telephone calls within
4 hours, regardless of where I am in. People who know me know that I am prompt
in returning telephone calls.
- Check Your Messages
Frequently - If you are out of your office often as I am, check your messages
several times a day. People may be looking to contact you quickly. It's not
unusual for me to receive calls from newspapers or magazines looking for information
on a story. They are usually on a deadline and are looking for "quick" turn
around. In my case, being a professional speaker, the call I receive may be
a speaker's bureau that is looking to check my availability for a client today!
If I do not return the telephone call promptly, I may have lost that speaking
engagement and that potential client.
Tips when "Leaving" a
- Do not speak too
fast! - Slow down when you are leaving a message, especially if you have
an accent. I receive many messages where I cannot even understand what the
person is saying. Even worse, I cannot write fast enough and I find myself
replaying the message several times to record the entire message.
- Pronounce your name
clearly - Announce your name slowly and clearly, especially if your name
is not a common name. Spell your name slowly if necessary. Allow people to
get the correct spelling of your name.
- Slow down when saying
your telephone number - This is the biggest complaint I have when people
leave their telephone number. People state their telephone numbers TOO FAST!
Say the numbers slowly and place a "pause" somewhere in the sequence of providing
your number. People will appreciate this, especially me!
- Give your company
name, your title & why you are calling - Describe to the person, in a
few short sentences who you are, which company you are with and why you are
calling. If you are requesting information, leave a detailed but brief message.
- Let them know when
to call you back - Leave a date, time, and preferred telephone number
for people. They can't return your telephone call if you don't leave your
telephone number. Providing them with the preferred time to call back makes
it much easier for them.
- Always sound professional
- Remember what I indicated in the beginning of this article. People DO judge
you by the tone of your voice and what you say. If you come across sounding
unprofessional in your message, they may not return your telephone call. Also,
do not leave very long-winded messages or they will stop listening.