yWhen you do something regularly, it loses its fear factor. We used to make lots of calls every day, but modern technology has changed this, meaning more people fear talking on the phone. While it might be a little daunting, the phone is still a great medium to communicate with, so it’s well worth overcoming the fear.
Modern technology is incredibly convenient—that’s why we love it. Text and email are no different. They allow you to effortlessly communicate, giving you time to think about what you’re saying, and all without having to invest in an unpredictable human interaction.
However, the limitations of a phone call are exactly some of the things that make it so powerful—it’s human, intuitive, and yes, it can get messy.
We communicate to achieve a goal. It might just be enjoyment, it might be to convince someone, it might be to organize something, but there’s always a reason. Most of the time, there’s going to need to be substantial back and forth to achieve this goal.
This is exactly what human conversations revolve around—back and forth, where questions flow, and you work together to reach an outcome. When you’re communicating through email or text, this back and forth is stunted. There are constant interruptions that make it much more complicated to reach a conclusion.
There’s also the fact that human language is complicated!
We don’t just use words to express what we mean. “Great” can mean two very different things based on tone, and when you text or email, it’s very difficult to account for tone.
When you pick up the phone, you’re showing intent to achieve an outcome, and often, this proactiveness is rewarded.
Email and text have become such a big part of our lives that we’re not used to talking on the phone anymore. With many skills, it’s a question of “use it or lose it,” when you don’t practice something, it seems so much harder when you do come to do it.
Fear not though!
You can quickly improve your skills on the phone, and these tips are a great place to start.
Everything is easier if you go into it with a plan. That includes talking on the phone. Improvisation and spontaneity are great, but there’s no way to calm your nerves before a big call (or even a regular call).
If the call is important to you, then it’s worth taking a little bit of time to think about what you want to achieve, and what you need to say in order to do it. One of the reasons people like email and text is because they’ve got time to come up with each answer—but if you’re prepared, then you don’t need this time.
Still, when it comes to picking up the phone and dialing a number, there are lots of people whose hands start to get sweaty and they start to get nervous.
Preparation can help, so try these two techniques.
What’s the worst that can happen when you pick up the phone?
Someone says no (not always politely). There’s no real danger to picking up the phone, but we tend to start overthinking it, and before we know it, we get a little short of breath and aren’t thinking as clearly as we might be.
Breathing exercises are excellent to prepare you for a big phone call. Tactical breathing is used by soldiers and emergency service workers to prepare them for difficult situations, so it should be able to help get you ready to perform on a phone call.
Hold on, in the first paragraph we said one of the main benefits of picking up the phone is the back and forth of natural conversation, and now you’re saying to create a script.
Creating a “script” doesn’t mean you have to follow it exactly—most of the time this is impossible because you can’t predict exactly where the conversation will go. What you can do is imagine how you would like the conversation to go, predict the objections and questions the other person might have, and write out a guide for what you would like to say.
When you’ve already “had the conversation” in your head, it takes some of the unknowns out of it. There will always be some things you could never predict, but at least you have an idea of how the conversation might go and the things you want to say.
You could bring out any number of cliches about confidence here. The fact is, confidence can get you a long way in life, even if you have to fake it in the beginning.
Confidence doesn’t just appear; it’s gained over time, and the more you practice on the phone, the more comfortable you’re going to be speaking on it. There are little things you can do before a call to boost your confidence and make yourself sound more assured though.
In face-to-face interactions, we use a smile to put people at ease. When talking on the phone, nobody can see your smile though, so what’s the point?
Well, it turns out that a smile has a big impact on your body and the way you portray yourself. A smile, even a forced one, can lower your heartbeat and stress levels—exactly what you need on a big call. Not only this, but it also impacts the way you communicate, making you seem warmer and more engaging.
This is something anyone can do, and it’s a great way to relax while you’re on the phone.
Few things can give you more confidence than the knowledge that you know your stuff.
Little things like taking some time to research the people you’re calling make a big difference. First impressions matter, and being able to make a connection early is a great way to build confidence.
One of the ways you can do this is by using tools like LinkedIn to find out more about the people you’re speaking with. For example, if you’re planning a sales call, then you might comment on a recent LinkedIn post by the person and discuss how it ties in with your call.
No matter how complicated your call is, it will always boil down to a few key points. The end of the call is an ideal time to summarize the content you’ve discussed and return the focus to those key points.
Ask if there are any more questions or topics that need to be addressed, and set a time for a follow-up.
As we mentioned at the beginning, you’re making the call because you have a goal in mind. In many cases, a key part of achieving the ultimate goal is getting the next call, so don’t be afraid to schedule it now.
Phone calls are about relationship building.
The reason why we pick up the phone, and why so many businesses invest in cold calling is that it’s a good way to start a relationship. You can ask and answer questions, express emotion, and guide the conversation in a way that creates ties.
These relationships are valuable, so you’ve got to continue to cultivate them.
This is why it’s important to discuss how you’re going to follow up after the call. You may continue to communicate by phone, schedule an in-person meeting, or switch over to email (here are some tips for your follow-up emails).
You’ve worked hard to get your foot in the door, so now you’ve got to make sure you grow the relationship by continuing to communicate well.
We may not make phone calls as often as we used to. Naturally, as it’s a skill we don’t practice as often, many people are more fearful of speaking on the phone in the age of text.
Phone calls are still a very powerful tool though, and there are many times when it’s important to hear the sound of another human voice (as opposed to text on a screen).
While you might feel some apprehension before you pick up the phone to make an important call, there are plenty of things you can do to make yourself feel more comfortable. With good preparation and a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, it will be much easier to get over your fear and become accomplished on the phone.