Have you ever had an important phone call and right after hanging up you mumble to yourself, “What the hell did I just say?”
Singing to Jesus Christ Superstar’s Everything’s Alright is probably what I’d do in order to cope, but don’t dwell on it because you’re not the only one who’ve endured those hellish calls. There’s a ritual when it comes to phone conversations and you don’t want to mess up, especially with somebody important. To avoid being doomed, be prepared before making that call by knowing whom you’ll be speaking to and what’s to be discussed.
First things first: make a list of topics you want to talk about. Having this at hand during calls is highly effective; it’ll prevent you from being disorganized and going over what’s already been mentioned. Play it safe by having one handy because you don’t want to seem all over the place.
To make matters worse, it’s possible to forget good ideas worth talking about and having a check off list will save you the hassle of making that second call that starts with, “I forgot to mention…”
Get to the point
Once the conversation is rolling don’t let it stop. Go beyond the basic greetings and do a little bantering depending on how well you know the person. Ask about their family, events they’re affiliated with or whatever you think may be of interest to them. This ice breaker makes the chatter slightly more laid back. Also, don’t fake it because people will smell that over the phone. I’d say keep it under three minutes or judge the situation to see if it’s an appropriate time to talk further. Warm up the conversation but remember to keep it sweet and short.
The one thing people tend to forget, which is the sole purpose of their call, is to state what it is they want.
Be sure to get to the point and let others know why you’re calling. Establishing this early in the conversation provides you with more time to elaborate while they think of ways to help.
The worst thing you could do is talk pointlessly. Doing so leaves the person on the other end of the line to preoccupy themselves by tapping their pens or curling their hair while thinking of ways to ditch the conversation.
Be sure to know what it is you’re asking. Ask yourself: How close is my relationship with this person? Am I pushing it too far? It’s not like you’re rubbing a Genie lamp so be reasonable with requests. If you’re not close then look at the phone call as if you’re building a relationship. Sooner or later, with more networking, you’ll establish a connection with this person and it’ll be easier to make requests. It takes time for this to cultivate so patience is key.
Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Four words you don’t want to hear: don’t waste my time. Consider it a favour when somebody offers a chunk of his or her time to you. As mentioned earlier, get to the point and don’t talk aimlessly. Try asking questions and engaging your caller as this makes them more of a speaker than listener. Think of it as a friendly tennis match! Just relax and don’t worry about not knowing what to say because oftentimes when you stay quiet, the person on the other end will feel the need to fill the dead air. Remember, listening is better than talking.
If you’re trying to build relationships with people, the last thing you’d want is for others to screen your calls or dread picking up.
To put this in better perspective, picture a phone meeting as a trip to the supermarket. Frivolously spending money on unnecessary goods such as purchasing a bag of potato chips will do nothing but harm to the body. Now compare that bag of chips to the person who constantly over talks during a call. He or she gains nothing from rambling on; the only harm done is leaving a lasting impression on others of being nothing but a nuisance.