Six Important Tips for Your Phone Voice
" Would you repeat that please?" "I'm sorry I can't understand you." "What?" "What did you say?" "I can't hear you."
What do these phrases all have in common? They all refer to the inability to understand what the person is saying. This is the #1 frustration when talking on the phone and has become the biggest of all complaints.
I'm not referring to those from other countries trying to learn the english language. I am talking about you and I. We all need to concentrate on speaking more clearly. It isn't all that difficult. It just takes a little awareness and some practice.
Now, I don't want to offend anyone and sometimes there are physical or mental reasons for poor diction. If this is the case, you may be excused. For the rest of you - here are 6 tips to help you begin speaking more clearly and confidently:
- Pronounciation - The words we speak are shaped by the mouth - particularly the lips. The vowels must "carry" and the consonants clearly articulated. The lips and tongue have a specific job to do. When they fail to do this job, our speech becomes "mushy" or "mumbled" and words are unclear. Poor articulation can hurt your credibility when communicating.
- Try this exercise to help you speak more clearly:
" Blind Exercise" - Pretending that you are speaking to someone who is blind, say the phrase, "I'm glad to meet you". Break each word down, concentrating on the following:
I'm ( drop the jaw when attacking the "I" for a more open sound ) and be sure to close the lips on "m".
glad (finish the "d" by putting your hand up to your mouth to feel for the quick spurt of air following the "d")
to ( the "o" is given the sound of "oo" and the lips should be pursed as if sucking through a straw ).
meet ( hum the "m" and the mouth is in a smiling position for the "ee".) Be sure to articulate the "t".
you - ( the "y" is a diphthong, meaning that 2 vowels are used to form this letter. Begin with a very quick "ee", followed by "oo".) - ee-oo.
Practice this exercise until your speed and sound is natural. Write out other common phrases you might use while on the phone and practice as outlined above.
What Emotion Does Your Speaking Voice Convey?
The sound of our voice and how we use it can say a lot about us. For example, we can convey the following emotions and moods:
The thing is, we are usually not even aware that we come across in a certain way. Most of us are pretty good at hiding our emotions. We try to be in control, especially when we are on the phone.
The truth is, the human voice is capable of showing true emotions even when we are in denial.
Recording your voice will help
2. Don't speak with a high tone if you are a woman. It's annoying and even irritating to some. The speaking voice is more pleasant to listen to when there is warmth in it. Women are not taught how to use the "chest " voice, therefore many women carry the "child" voice with them through life.
3. Watch your speed. Talking to fast can be a detriment to good communication. And speaking too slow will put others to sleep.
4. Never eat or chew gum while on the phone. Is anything more annoying? And if you are on "speaker" phone with the sound magnified - well, you get the picture.
5. Be a good listener. Try not to interrupt or cut the other party off. This is a habit that can and should be broken.
6. Record your voice. It's amazing what we learn about our voice when we record it. I warn you that the first time you hear your voice you may be shocked, or go into denile. After a lifetime as a public speaker, I still dislike the sound of my speaking voice. One reason for this is because we spend years only hearing our sound as it resonates between our head and face surfaces. Others hear our voice as something very different.
August 10, 1876: Alexander Graham Bell makes the world's first long distance telephone call, about 6 miles between Brantford and Paris,Ontario Canada.
Your Basic Phone Greeting
The telephone rings just as you are about to have your dinner. You are tempted to ignore the caller, but you anxiously pick up the phone and impatiently answer, "hello!" It becomes obvious to the caller that his call has been an interruption. He feels bad and he feels responsible for your present emotional state. He may think twice about calling you in the future.
The word "hello" is one of the most used words in the English language. Whether we use relative words like "hey", or "hi", the meaning is the same. However, the interpretation of this basic greeting depends on how we use our voice.
It has been estimated that we spend an average of 525600 minutes a year on the telephone. So let's get it right and present a better image.
How to Be a Better Listener
The number one frustration and complaint with being engaged in a conversation is the other party doesn't really listen. Interruptions are frequent and we aren't even allowed to finish a sentence.
Being a "phone hog" is rude, selfish and dis-respectful. Nothing destroys your telephone image as fast as hogging and dominating a conversation.
Being a good listener is a skill we can all master. Yes, it takes some practice but all leadership skills do. Here are a few tips to help prepare you to be a better listener:
- Take a deep breath before replying.
- Wait two seconds after the person finishes speaking before you take your turn.
- Show a sincere interest by asking questions on the topic.
- Care about what's being said by the other person.
- Do not interject. As difficult as this might be, learn to restrain yourself.
Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue-to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak. - Socrates
Final Thought ~ It's Not What We Say But How We Say It
People cannot see us when we speak on the telephone, therefore judgements are made on what we sound like. The importance is not so much what we say, but how we say it.
- We assume others understand our meaning.
- Be aware of the tone you are using.
- Studies have shown that 87% of the opinions people form about us, when speaking to us on the telephone, are based on the tone of our voice. Only 13% is based on the actual words we use.
“It is not what we say or feel that makes us what we are. It is what we do...or fail to do."
Marianne, BBC 2007 Production of Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility.
4 February 1878: Edison demonstrates the telephone between Menlo Park, New Jersey and Philadelphia, a distance of 210 kilometres (130 mi).
Because we can't be seen when talking on the telephone, the message we communicate is based on two parts.
- What we say and
- How we say it
Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled. ~Horace
It's getting harder and harder to differentiate between schizophrenics and people talking on a cell phone. It still brings me up short to walk by somebody who appears to be talking to themselves.
Bob Newhart quotes
© 2011 Audrey Hunt