7 Pointers to Build your Telephone Skills

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Do you Struggle to Feel Comfy and Build Rapport on the Phone?

Did you ever sit down and evaluate your telephone skills?

It’s not something we really do is it?

When I meet someone who tells me they avoid making phonecalls, the first thing I notice is their feelings of dread.

I then usually ask,

“Have you ever sat down, I mean really sat down and evaluated your phone skills?”

Chances are, they haven’t.

Usually, instead of taking a proactive approach to improving their phone skills, they’ve drowned their mindset with avoidance, dread and maybe even fear to pick up the phone.

If this sounds like your situation, we’ve got you covered!

The dreaded phone call doesn’t need to be dreaded anymore.
Whether you are cold calling, networking, liaising with a colleague or speaking with managers, you can build your telephone skills with these tips.

And if you consider yourself a bit of a telephone call rockstar don’t get to into yourself – I’m pretty sure you can pick up even more skill.

Finding your groove consistently on the phone and speaking with total ease and style is a great goal to have.

Chances are you can definitely expand on your already solid telephone skills so keep reading my friend!

7 Pointers to Build your Telephone Skills

These tips are perfect to improve your telephone skills for your work and social life.

1. Know Your Target + Audience

If you want to build your telephone skills we recommend you manage your professional calls like you’re branding your personal call centre.

Calls centres all over the world all use a similar “call centre style”, but multi-national organisations with different offices will add subtle style modifications to give their front desks a local feel.

It helps to take the same approach.

Think about how you manage your calls with different stakeholders. Add little details and nuances to engage your client and treat this as an essential personal branding project.
This is a worthwhile activity when you consider that every call you make or take has the opportunity to open huge doors for you professionally. A bit of forethought can help you to create a specific personality and style in your telephone communication that sincerely reflects you and your strengths.

Every caller has a different relationship to you. By knowing your target audience and adjusting your communication to match them you’ll enrich every single conversation and build better relationships through the phone.

2. Analyse Your Workplace Needs to Improve your Telephone Skills

Take a moment now to brainstorm your workplace phone calls. Think deeper about why you actually need to get on the phone and what that achieves for your employer, small business or business networks.

When you see that your job security might actually count on your ability to engage customers via regular contact, or your project deadlines will be finalised sooner by maintaining phone contact, you will add fuel to your motivation to get on the calls.

It’s also good to consider what are the expectations of your workplace? Also, is there a preferred style of calls in your industry?

Is there a way you can make your phonecalls more interesting so that you stand out for your industry?

Do your clients or stakeholders need a follow-up email, video or additional call scheduled after your call to keep engagement tight?

3. Think of Your Non-Verbal Communication

You can tell by vocal tone whether someone is interested or not. ⁠ ⁠ So continue to use your non-verbal communication skills on the phone- facial expressions, gestures and movement will bring your call to life and keep you sounding authentic, which people love!
Listeners on the phone can smell fear, so make sure you use good voice and confident tone, no matter how you feel.
These are vital telephone skills that you’ll need to master to secure conversation successfully in all of your calls.
Very important, Your voice tone, when you pick up the phone can make, or break rapport. If you are inclined to answer with a flat monotone, this will impact your caller and make them feel like their call is unwanted. They may even conclude you don’t like them if you pick up with an unenergised tone. You have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders when you pick up the call. See that your mood will transfer to the caller, so do your best to stay fresh, positive and peppy.

4. Answer the Phone Professionally

A simple but effective tip!
We recommend a professional, happy tone.
This makes your conversation partner feel valued. ⁠
It’s often good to say your name and company in your greeting, this will settle the caller and let them know exactly who you are!⁠ ⁠
For example,
If you’re calling:
“Hi, I’m Sarah, a speech pathologist at Voice Science”⁠ ⁠
or if you’re picking up,
“Hello this is Voice Science and you’re speaking with Sarah, how can I help you?”⁠ ⁠

3 Ways to Build Rapport on the Phone

The Little Shot™ Episode, 11
I’ve got your number, but have I got your attention?

Building rapport on the phone is something we all can do better.

Your ability to create a connection with your conversation partner on the phone can seal the deal for a job, future relationship or even be the key thing that builds your small business.

I think you’ll find this Little Shot a good source of expressive fuel.

You’ll learn three easy strategies to focus on that will improve your conversations on the phone, so what are you waiting for?

Watch this 5 – minute tutorial, it might actually change your phone life!

the little shot
Watch now

5. Signpost

Use a framework like our Positive Impact Statement to outline and then summarise your talking points. ⁠ ⁠We cover this in our High-Performance Communication Courses


Frameworks not only keep you on track, but help provide context for the listener.⁠ ⁠

There’s nothing wrong with priming your message and jotting down a few bullet points or mapping out a flow chart if there are some detailed specifics you want to address during the call.⁠ ⁠

If it’s an important call, take a moment to sit note down your objectives, the flow of conversation so that you engage your listener effectively and even questions you might ask them to build rapport. ⁠

Remember, just like a letter, calls have

⁠ – a beginning [the greeting],

– a middle [the core conversation topics] and,

⁠ – an end [the close line, actionables]. ⁠ ⁠

Think about how you can structure the call effectively and plan some things you can say or ask specifically to the person you’re calling.

This will make their time feel valued and worthwhile.⁠

6. Make a Plan

Have a rough idea of what you are going to say but don’t be too rigid. ⁠

Go with the flow of the conversation. ⁠

If you get off track, have some pre-practised one-liners to get you back on topic.⁠

Write down your main point, questions and goals!⁠ Keep your notes in front of you and check each item off with a pen to make sure you’re moving through your topics methodically.

7. Roleplay

Winging it is certainly not a strategy we feel comfortable with.

One of the biggest tips for building your telephone skills could be through the use of  role-play and practice.

If you take a moment to patiently run through what you want to say, out loud, I guarantee you’ll perform better on the call and start to improve your telephone skills long term.

Don’t be harsh on yourself. Trust the rehearsal process.

We rehearse to perform effectively at high level and in theatre, the saying goes:

“A bad rehearsal makes a good performance.”

8. Calm your farm!

We all get nervous and make mistakes, but the key to building your telephone skills is focusing hard on your goals and practising and adapting with a growth mindset.

You can never control the future but you can control what you do at that moment! ⁠

Use every opportunity as a moment for personal growth, You never stop learning! Take a learning approach to improve your telephone skills and make sure you let us know how you go!

Enrol today!

If communication is a concern for you our High- Performance Communication Audit is the first step to improving your words, voice tone, clarity and conversation skills. 

high performance communication audit

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Akamoglu, Y., Meadan, H., Pearson, J.N. et al. Getting Connected: Speech and Language Pathologists’ Perceptions of Building Rapport via Telepractice. J Dev Phys Disabil 30, 569–585 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10882-018-9603-3

Attias, N. (2008). Cold calling: Telephone tips. Canadian Consulting Engineer, 49(6), 14.

Bass, A. N. (2018). Tips for establishing professional presence in using the telephone: essential skills to enhance communication in the business environment. Institute for Global Business Research, 2(2), 136-140.

Euchner, Jim. (2016). The Medium is the Message. Research-Technology Management. 59. 9-11. 10.1080/08956308.2016.1209068.


Hultgren, Anna. (2011). ‘Building rapport’ with customers across the world: The global diffusion of a call centre speech style1. Journal of Sociolinguistics. 15. 36 – 64. 10.1111/j.1467-9841.2010.00466.x.

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