When the Conference Calls: How to Communicate by Mouth, Not Fingers
If you’re a writer, like I am a writer, then chances are you’re at your most Shakespearian when positioned near a keyboard or a pen and paper and become less like Shakespeare the closer you get to a microphone. Also, you love the solitude of the job and the ability to edit what you write before anyone else reads it.
When a client wishes to speak with you over the phone, however, you lose the ability to carefully consider communications and proofread your words. Once something is spoken in a conference call, it cannot be unsaid. Painfully awkward utterances, uncomfortable laughter, or any number of conference call fails not only make you sound less professional, they’re painful to hear when playing back a recorded copy of the meeting to double-check your notes (which you should always take for more effective phone meetings).
If you dread a conference call as much as your dog looks forward to relieving himself on his favorite tree, then this article’s for you.
10 Ways to Relax and Have the Conference Call of Your Dreams (Maybe That’s a Stretch. Let’s Try Again.) 10 Ways to Relax and Not Have the Conference Call of Your Nightmares
1. Choose Your Location Wisely
If you have an established office or writing space, it could be the right spot to attend a phone meeting. Be sure to select a location where you can access necessary information (internet connection) and good phone reception. Choose a place free from extraneous noise like barking dogs, espresso machines, and noisy children. It’s also smart to put yourself in a place where you feel professional and confident, like a home office or a reserved meeting room.
2. Dress Yourself
The expression dress for the job you want didn’t spread around the world because it isn’t true. Wearing a uniform or costume directly affects a person’s confidence, personality, and performance. I won’t name any names, but I know a few writers who change from night pajamas into day pajamas and back again. Although pajamas might make us expert dreamers (in other words, highly creative), they probably don’t make most people feel super professional. Before your conference call, take a shower and get dressed as if you were attending a meeting in person.
3. Prepare and Practice
Sometimes clients have specific agendas for calls that they discuss with you before the meeting. Other times, they don’t tell you why they want to speak. In both cases, it’s important to arrive prepared. Come with a list of your own questions or comments on how you think the relationship can improve and try to anticipate your client’s concerns or new ideas.
5. Call on Time
Just like a regular business meeting that takes place in person, it’s important to be on time, if not early, for a conference call.
6. Don’t Use Speaker
Speaker phones sometimes pick up background or static noise and make it more difficult to communicate. If you can, try to hold your phone and take notes at the same time.
7. Announce and Introduce Yourself
When connected to the call, say hello and introduce yourself. Don’t assume everyone on the other side of the call knows when another person has connected.
8. Stay Positive and Choose Words Wisely
Without the ability to send and receive visual cues, language is very important. Choose your words wisely to ensure your true intent and meaning comes through in the conversation. Also, keep in mind that a smile (or its absence) can usually be detected in your tone of voice.
9. Close Your Eyes to Improve Focus
Our sense of sight is incredibly strong, and for visual learners it can be the dominant sense. If you find yourself having a difficult time focusing on the conversation at hand, try closing your eyes. This will eliminate visual stimuli, heightening your brain’s ability to concentrate on the auditory conversation happening on the phone.
10. Follow Up
After the call, send your client a follow up message just to thank them for their time and make sure you are clear on upcoming goals and expectations.
Call with Confidence
Whether these tips increase your confidence or not, when you dial into your next conference call, at least be confident in your abilities to create awesome content off the phone. Be pleasant and polite over the phone. Then, let your written work speak for itself.
Jennifer G is a full-time freelance writer and editor with a B.A. in creative writing from the University of Montana. She enjoys researching and writing creative content to engage readers and developing professional voices for clients across all industries. She specializes in medical, health, veterinary, and financial writing. Having worked nearly thirteen years in finance, Jennifer applies her experience in the banking industry (marketing, social media management, consumer and commercial lending, customer service, accounts, and bookkeeping) to her writing work within the industry.