Have you ever made a call and immediately made an impression about the person you are talking to or the organization culture? I had not thought deeply about this until last week. I made a call to a certain organization following up on some details and I was amazed at the thoughts that followed that call. The kind of information I was looking for was very basic considering that the important details had already been agreed in prior discussions.

I however realized that the person I was referred to was very skeptical to say anything on phone. I also realized that despite being a major player in organizing the upcoming training she did not have basic information on the expectation of the training participants or any guiding information on the team’s profile. I also realized that she required to have every conversation recorded on E mail and copied to the ‘relevant’ people. The person also sounded bored, tired or bothered by the call. Information that would take me five minutes to gather in other institutions took me three days with this organization.

A quick thought ran through my mind; This is an organization with a low level of trust, high level of bureaucracy leading to low employee empowerment and fear. Am glad I kept that in mind. As discussions unfolded during the training, the management confirmed my observation. Though they are working hard to change this culture it is still evident.

What I found most intriguing is that I made that observation through a three-minute phone call to the organization. This is the power of a phone conversation. It reminded me of a comment I got a while back from a taxi driver. I had requested for a taxi through an online platform just after landing at an airport. When the driver called, we had the usual conversation to confirm the ride.

I got delayed checking out and getting my luggage. Considering how long I took I expected the driver would have cancelled the ride or left. To my surprise I found the driver still waiting at the agreed spot. I apologized as he picked my luggage. He however responded with a smile; “I really wanted to see this lady who is having a great day.” That caught me off-guard. I had not taken note of my phone response when he asked how I was doing, my answer was “Am great, thanks How are you?” He went ahead to explain that most people do not even answer to the taxi driver greetings neither do they go ahead to ask the driver how he/she is doing. This statement gave him the impression that I was happy and courteous. This impression earned me a free waiting time.

Next time you pick/make a social or professional call, ask yourself, what impression am I creating on myself or the organization that I represent. To make a better impression;

  1. Tell, Do not Ask – you should know what you’re going to say and state it authoritatively.

This means you have to know how to structure your sentence. Instead of asking “So what do you want to do about this situation?” try saying that “So I am wondering what you want to do about this situation.” It’s a small change, but it makes you sound a lot more confident and commanding.

Consider yourself equal; If you are speaking with an important contact, consider yourself their equal. Focus on what you have in common rather than their position, and you will be able to talk with ease.

  1. Be prepared – Do not use filters

Using “um, “uh,” “y’ know,” “well,” and other filler phrases kill your credibility. Whether your listener is aware of it or not, they will think of you as nervous and ineloquent.

Speak with authority – Make your audience believe you are an expert in everything you talk about. Be prepared with statistics and anecdotal evidence that back up each of your points.

  1. Speak slowly and deeply

Spacing out your words allows your audience time to digest them, and it conveys that you have taken the time to deliberate over each one. People with deeper voices are also seen as more confident-sounding. This one is a bit harder to control than slowing down your speech, but try to avoid pitching your voice up. Speak with a deliberate, confident tone. If you sound like you know your stuff, your audience will believe that you do.

  1. Assume proper form

Good posture will also help with the depth and clarity of your voice – avoid multitasking on a business call. Whether in a social situation or business, confidence is king. It makes everyone gravitate towards you if you get it right, and learning how to exude confidence over the phone is a huge step in that direction.

  1. Smile

Studies show that people can hear a speaker’s expression in their voice. If you are smiling while you say a phrase, it will sound distinctly different than if you say the same phrase through a frown. This is true even if you are trying to use the same intonation.

A happy orator is more confident and trustworthy. The point is, you should try to smile while speaking on the phone. It will inspire trust and confidence, and it will make you feel better about the message you are delivering too.

With confidence you have won before you have started” Marcus Garvey

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