I am often asked how trainees can make an impression with customers over the phone, sound confident and make a connection.
Naturally, there is a certain amount of knowing what to say, the words we choose and when to say them. However, a lot of good communication comes down to how we say it! In other words - our tone of voice.
Over the telephone our voice carries 85% of the message we wish to convey. Just the remaining 15% is based on the actual words. We need to speak clearly and effectively to create a positive impact.
Similar to when we record our voice, we can sound different on the phone and not even realise it. We hear ourselves from inside our heads and may think we are speaking in a particular way. Couple that with the fact that people can’t see us – so, we need to inject more energy into our voice.
This sounds quite simple. Yet, there are a couple of factors we need to consider to get right.
Tone is greater than words – Rather like the melody of a song, by conveying the right emotion and by adapting the pitch of our voice between high and low, we can add meaning to what we are saying, so people are drawn in and understand.
Pace and volume – Speaking at the right pace and volume is important, so customers can clearly hear and take on board everything we say. We also need to adjust both, when we make a statement, tell a story and to suit the right setting.
Pausing – Helps us when we emphasis a point. It also allows people to catch up and think about what we have just said. Likewise, using a pause at the end of a question compels the person to answer.
Get your posture right – Standing or sitting up straight helps us feel and portray confidence, by ensuring our airwaves and voice-box are both clear and relaxed. So, every time you pick up the phone, think PIE – get your posture right, inhale as you answer the phone and exhale as you begin to talk.
Breathing adds resonance – Many people get nervous and don’t take a breath. It tightens the muscles at the back of the throat and we sound high-pitched. Taking a breath will not only help us think clearly (oxygen gets to the brain), but it allows us to breath from the chest adding resonance and a deepness to our voice.
Get voice fit and exercise – Like a singer going on stage or an athlete before a game, it’s good to do warm up exercises. By stretching our muscles and getting air into our lungs, it greatly enhances the strength and quality of our voice. There are many exercises we can do specifically for our voice. The key is keep practicing for about 10 minutes each day or before an important call. Some examples include:
- Exaggerating and repeating the letters “Q.E.D.R” to get our mouth moving
- Other breathing movements include sighing, laughing and even yawning
- Humming and making the noise of a siren (say “We” in a high pitch and “r” in a lower tone)
- Gurgling like a baby or bringing your lips together and making the pop sound as you exhale
- Having a glass of water beside you always helps
Finally, as Will Rogers once quoted “You never get a second chance to make a great first impression”. So, each time you pick up the phone, remember to smile and project your voice – it’s your power and that matters.