Communication skills are some of the most important assets that anyone can have in a business setting. Being a good communicator is necessary if you want to be a good leader, if you want to persuade customers and clients and if you want to work well with others while avoiding arguments and misunderstandings.
And these days there are more different forms of communication in business than ever before. No longer is communication just face to face or over the phone, it’s also something we do by e-mail, through social media and on Skype.
But the art of actually speaking is still just as important as it ever was, and if you want to achieve any kind of success in business then it’s absolutely critical that you hone these skills and be able to speak confidently and compellingly on the phone. Here are a few tips that can help you do just that.
Most people don’t like talking on the phone – especially to strangers or in a professional context. Thus they have a tendency to rush, which is pretty much the worst thing you can do when you’re already struggling to make yourself understood. If you want to improve your communication skills on the phone instantly then, you should practice slowing down and taking your time. You’ll be clearer and easier to understand, and at the same time you’ll also give yourself more time to choose the next word thus improving your vocabulary and verbal dexterity.
Studies have shown that simply smiling while speaking on the telephone can improve the impression you give off to the person listening. That might sound absurd as they can’t see you, but presumably it affects subtle factors like your pitch and your tone which the other person can pick up on unconsciously.
Take a Moment:
Often we answer the phone when in a massive rush/stress which is a problem as it means we’re going into the conversation already harassed. A good piece of advice then is to try taking a moment to breathe, smile, sit up straight and compose yourself before picking up and answering.
It’s human nature to want to fill every awkward silence, but this is a bad idea if you are in a business discussion over the phone. Leaving silences will not only make you again seem more confident and in control of the conversation, but it will also mean that the person you’re talking to has to speak. That in turn will mean they tell you more and in a negotiation it means they’ll often give you the information you need.
Manage the Phone:
A bad workman blames his tools perhaps, but ignoring your tools altogether is just dumb. If people are struggling to understand you on the phone or you’re having lots of circular conversations, it may be that you need to replace your communication installation with something more high tech. Alternatively it may be that you’re simply holding the phone wrong and the mouthpiece is too far or too near to your mouth. Play around with your setup with a colleague on the other line until you get the kind of clarity you need.
Set a Time Limit:
Sometimes the problem is not the quality of the conversation but the quantity – people take too long to get to the point due to all the idle chit-chat and small talk which ultimately wastes everyone’s time. To make your calls more ‘efficient’ then, try telling the person you’re speaking to that you don’t have long as soon as you have introduced yourself. Say that you have a meeting in ten minutes or you have a lot of work on, but don’t let them arrange to call back later. This way you can get to the point faster and cut down the time spent achieving nothing.
Practice. You may not enjoy speaking on the phone at work to begin with, and you may never do. But the more you practice and try the more confident you’ll become and the better you’ll get at it. Don’t shy away from calls – view them as on-the-job training!