Talking is something which comes naturally to us in everyday situations. Through a myriad of gestures, facial expressions and words we manage to get our meaning across.
Whether ordering our favourite coffee or asking a friend about their weekend, we exchange information almost instantaneously, often without thinking.
While teleconferencing and web conferencing present a convenient and effective way of communicating across physical boundaries, employers and employees alike need to recognise that phone conversations represent their own challenge to business communication.
In part one, we looked at how alternating between you and the other party as well as listening closely could improve your phone skills. We now take a look at two more important factors this week to see how we can better hone this critical skill.
Always bear in mind exactly what it is you would like to accomplish from a call. Without a clear goal in mind, it's easy to get caught up in the conversation and go round in circles without reaching an understanding or agreement, wasting everyone's time.
If you can sense the other party going too far off track, nudge them back towards the core reason for the call, without cutting them off entirely.
"Very few people use their voice and word choice actively to create a better connection with the person at the other end of the line," says Inc. Magazine's Geoffrey James. "Never have a business conversation, especially on the phone, without knowing exactly what you're trying to accomplish."
Slow down and listen to yourself
For those who have a teleconference in the middle of a busy day, it can often be tempting to try and get it over and done with as quickly as possible. Often when we're pressed for time, or conversely, are excited to explain our ideas, we tend to talk faster.
Unfortunately, talking quickly does not translate too well over the phone, as the other person can't read any visual cues from your mouth movements as you would instinctively do with face to face communication. Instead, get your point across at a more moderate, well enunciated pace, and you may find the message gets through the first time.
Furthermore, Mr James recommends monitoring your own speech by recording your calls to make sure you aren't lifting your tone at the end of a sentence; inadvertently turning it into a question. This radiates uncertainty over the phone, as do other small ticks such as "um," and "uh".