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Phones are very strong communication tools because they make people at a distance – and even total strangers – immediately accessible. Use the phone to create opportunities that otherwise would be much harder to exploit.

Improving Technique

Many people tend to take their phone skills for granted. However, phone skills can be improved by know-how and practice. Telesales people, who use the phone for “cold calls” to people they do not know, are experts. Basic telesales tips include:

  • Write down in advance what you want to cover and in what order.
  • Speak slowly and pace yourself with the other person.
  • Always be polite and friendly.
    • Smile – a smiling face encourages a smiling voice and invites a positive response.

Leaving Messages

If you have answer phones and voicemail, deal with any incoming messages waiting for you as soon as you can, and always within 24 hours.

When leaving a message for someone else, start with your name, phone number, and the time of your call. Speak slowly and clearly, or your name, number, or both may be lost. When leaving an outgoing message, keep it brief and businesslike. If you can be specific about your time of return, or who should be contacted in your absence, change your outgoing message accordingly.

Getting Through

You will not be able to communicate effectively if you fail to get through to the correct person. Do your research thoroughly to find the name of the person appropriate to your needs, and then if the person is a total stranger (and an important figure), adopt an intimate, confident approach when you phone them. For instance, when making the initial phone call, use the person’s first name, and announce yourself by saying, “This is so-and-so” (don’t say “My name is so-and-so”). If the person in question is in a meeting in a meeting, ask when he or she will be free and say you will ring back. Then ring back later, and say your call is expected.

When you are through to the right person, never put down the phone without making your point – repeatedly, if possible. As with any verbal exchange, check that your message has been correctly understood by the other party.

Points to remember:

  • Your main point should be repeated often – and be mentioned last.
  • Longer messages should be faxed or e-mailed, not voice mailed or left on an answer phone.
  • Phone conversations are easy to control than face-to-face meetings because interactions can be businesslike and terse; exploit that advantage.


  1. Keep a clock on your desk to monitor the time you spend on calls.
  2. Use features like “call waiting” to increase your effectiveness.
  3. If you say you will return a call, make sure you do.
  4. End answer phone messages by repeating your name and number.
  5. Change your recorded phone message as and when your circumstance change.

Bernard Taiwo

I am Management strategist, Editor and Publisher.

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