Six Important Tips for Your Phone Voice


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:

  • depression
  • illness
  • exhaustion
  • excitement
  • positiveness
  • negativeness
  • happiness
  • surprise
  • love
  • hatred
  • sleepy
  • sorrow
  • upset
  • distracted
  • professional
  • irritation
  • boring

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.

Keep your  telephone image pleasing, warm and professional.
Keep your telephone image pleasing, warm and professional. | Source

6 Important Tips to Improving Your Telephone 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 caller is saying. This is the #1 frustration when talking on the phone. It 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 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:

  1. 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.

An exercise in diction awareness:

" 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.

"I cannot understand what this person is saying."
"I cannot understand what this person is saying." | Source

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.

A markerOntario,Canada -
Ontario, Canada
[get directions]

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).

A markerMenlo Park,New Jersey -
Edison, NJ, USA
[get directions]

Consider This

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

Comments 54 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Very interesting hub with some great tips. I still remember being startled as a teenager when a teacher recorded our voices. Mine sounded very high pitched and nothing like I'd imagined and I didn't like it. I think it was a good lesson in becoming aware of my own voice.

When I leave voice mail messages for my husband, I'll play them back sometimes just to see how my voice is coming across and I usually like the way it sounds.

Charlotte B Plum profile image

Charlotte B Plum 5 years ago

Hey vocalcoach!

I thought this was such an interesting hub! It would have never crossed my mind to think of such a topic.

I think I need to practice talking with more warmth in my voice, as mine is naturally high pitched.

keep going!=)

Indigital 5 years ago

I've never thought of this when talking to someone - I wonder if I sound awfully depressed to people I don't want to speak to, eek! I think, if anyone, my Nanna probably has the most uplifting and happy voice on the phone, she seemed positively ecstatic whenever anyone rings.

homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 5 years ago from Texas

Very nice hub. My husband has told me that sometimes I sound tired or depressed on the phone. And it was my intention. So it is definitely something I need to think about more often.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

happyboomernurse - What a good idea to play back your voice mail message. I hope our hubfamily reads your comments as this is a great way to hear what your voice sounds like. A huge thanks to you!

lisabeaman profile image

lisabeaman 5 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

Great hub Audrey! What a good idea... I talk on the phone all the time at work, sometimes for recruiting for our internship program and sometimes to interview applicants over the phone. So I'm both being judged by my voice and judging others. Great hub! Voted up and useful :)

drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Important tips, Audrey, about a subject most people do not pay enough attention to. The telephone company once had a small card next to the phone of every customer rep. The card read: "Smile." It's difficult to sound negative to a caller if you are smiling.

Dee aka Nonna profile image

Dee aka Nonna 5 years ago

Like Happyboomernurse, I just wanted to die the first time I heard my voice on a recording. It wasn't by a teacher--wish it had been---it was actually while learning to become a trainer/facilitator. In our first practice session our voices were recorded...then we were encouraged to record our voices anytime we practiced or rehearsed. In the end we learned control and was able to see or hear our progress. Great hub! Voted up and useful. Anyone who must used their voice should read this.

KathyH profile image

KathyH 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

Great hub! Very interesting and something I hadn't thought much about... I sometimes get "is your Mom there?" Something good to work on! Thank you for the tips!

Kathy :)

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Thanks for the lesson. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, so I am always fighting the accent. Up and useful!

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This is great advice. Not being able to understand or hear someone is frustrating and annoying. Another suggestion is for the caller to extinguish background noise. It really interferes and while not an actual part of the "voice", it adds or detracts to the perception of the speaker.

Your Hubs are great, especially lately. I have seen wonderful Hubs from many Hubbers and I appreciate them so very much. Thank you! Hyph

Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 5 years ago from London, UK

This is excellent. I must brush up on my Telephone skills. Some people call me just as I have taken a big bite of a chocolate bar and I have to keep it to the side of my cheek because I don't want to chew it while talking....

Great Hub.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Charlotte - To add more warmth in your speaking voice, think chest. Lower sounds resonate from the chest area. It will feel and sound strange at first, but will move the vibrations to a lower area. Thanks for likning my hub.

Indigital - Your Nanna had the right idea. God bless her!

Here's a hint to help you speak with more energy. Simply run in place (or to the phone) on the first ring. Keep running until the 3rd ring and your voice will sound "alive " and wonderful. Thanks for your comments.

homesteadbound - I just gave Indigital a hint for bringing more energy to the voice. Give it a try. How is the hub challenge going? Your hubs are a treat to read. Going to check out your latest one right now. Good luck - to you, and to me :)

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

This is so excellent Audrey! With so many people and new graduates going out on job interviews it's crucial information and great advice. Your voice really does define who you are. It broadcasts not only your emotions, but your "perceived" level of sophistication and intelligence. I keep thinking of an funny old commercial that showed a glamorous woman surrounded by photographers and the press. You thought she was hot stuff until she opened her mouth and out came the most irritating voice you could imagine. The same goes for anyone in a business suit! Here's to Eliza and Henry Higgins. Cheers and good luck with the Hub Challenge!

Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

My enunciation is fine but loud...thanks for sharing vocalcoach.;)

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Mentalist - evaluating your speaking voice to identify clarity and tonal dynamics is the best way to begin improvement. Loud dynamics work great for lecturing, teaching, etc. Phone communication, is more personal, hence the dynamic range of "m" (medium ) to " mf" (medium loud) works best. In fact, because you enunciate so well, even a "mp" can carry well.

Thanks, my writing hero, for your comments.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

GL - I love your story of the "hot looking woman" who lost the "hot" as soon as she started to speak. How true - how true. It works in reverse too. I have experienced woman who speak with the voice of an angel, who, inspite of their looks, instantly become beautiful.

And you make an excellent point regarding how important the voice is to landing a job. Thanks, golden friend for your support during my commitment to the hub challenge.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Older folks with hearing loss usually have trouble hearing the consonants, so articulating consonants clearly can save a lot of repetitions.

Good points, Coach!

always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

I must admit that i needed this. My Son tells me that i sound HICKY on the phone. I know i should be mad at him, but i thought it was funny HaHa, Your Hub is packed full of good tips, thank you.....

Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

I have a really beautiful speaking voice that always encourages comments.

It is a classic, deep, very British voice with almost perfect pronunciation and inflection. I can virtually get anything I want on the phone and use it to advantage whenever I am required to do so.

I love the sound of my own voice, and have hardly any faults whatsoever, apart from the occasional lapse into humility.

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 5 years ago

Very Interesting Hub Vocalcoach. I'm always Amazed at the Sound of my Voice...when we talk we think we know what we sound like, but after listening to my Phone Recording on the Answering machine...Mmmm I do sound so Different. But yet, I get things done to my liking, be it a complaint etc., so I guess my voice is Pleasing and Authoritative. Lover Man says I always get the Job Done effectively. Thanks for Sharing these 6 Important Tips, I'm always willing to Learn.

randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

This is a great topic for a hub! My husband is very critical of my phone voice, and I know that there is room to improve. In the age of smart phones and texting, I actually don't spend much time on the phone anymore, but it's still really important to make the best of the calls that you do have to make/answer.

Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Some great tips here, people do tend to mumble or speak very quickly on the phone.

I hope I don't really sound like I do on a recording, it's awful1

Great hub, thank you.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

My beloved George had a wonderful voice. It was strong and clear, could convey humor, pathos, love, expertise and most of all - trustworthiness. Like my friend TwilightLawns states above, - George, too, could open doors with that voice. Even when George''s body and mind were both dwindling, it was a fact that if he got on the phone, dialed a number from the Yellow Pages (which he loved to do!), there was no telling what deals he might make and bring to fruition while on the phone, but which he wouldn't remember by the time he'd hung it up!

To me, it was the dearest voice on Earth. I have such sensitive ears that I can be physically pained by some voices if they are raspy and ill-spirited. So I have to say that this is one of the most beneficial of hubs, VocalCoach! Thank you!

I have to mention that I've been complimented on the tone of my own voice, but at one time, I was so shy that if I detected anyone actually listening to me, my voice would simply begin to become almost "swallowed" before it was sent out. I had to learn to project and to modulate it, but that, happily, came more easily when I gained self-assurance and forgot about self-consciousness. Those make a huge difference in how we sound.

Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Hi Audrey - you've done it again! A great hub packed full with useful information. I have to say that I get so annoyed when someone on the other end of the phone is chewing gum. It's so obvious and distracting!!!

I always like to answer the phone "hello" happy and cheerfully, even if I don't feel like it. In my job, Customer Service is very important and the Customer doesn't need to know if I am having a bad day. They just want to talk to someone happy and helpful.

Voted up!


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

cloverleaf - Customer Service! Probably the most thankless job but a great example of where this hub is needed the most. But you are such an assest to that field and understand completely why this information is necessary.

In a way, we are all customer service reps and should get busy noticing how we come across to others.

You are such a love for following all my hubs and giving me so much support. I was so tired last night, that I wrote a silly poem which will be published today. I hope others will find the humor and message in my poem.

Have a fantastic day, you fantastic person!!!!!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Movie Master - There are times when I really do think twice about suggesting people record their voices. Its like opening up a can of worms :) Like I said - after hundreds of my own recordings, I still shutter when I hear it. Thank you so much.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Yes, it is amazing how the phone picks it more than you realize.

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

As one who has been accused of not "articulating clearly," who speaks in a deep voice, I understand and agree with this great article.

RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

What a great reminder! Communication is a key element to survival now days!

carolina muscle profile image

carolina muscle 5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

This is a wonderful hub, Audrey... plenty of solid ideas that will help anybody communicate more effectively!!! Rated UP, of course!!!

Princessa profile image

Princessa 5 years ago from France

Great tips. Pronounciation is sooo important I can tell you that speaking a foreign language trying to talk on the phone is very challenging because of the pronunciation. During face to face comunication it is always easy to convey what you are meaning, but on the phone it is a completely different story. Good pronunciation and choosing the right words is a very good beginning.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Princessa - You make an excellent point! Without the ability to see the person you are speaking with, all the "confirmation" signals are lost. The non-verbal communication of just the face itself - the eyes, (eye-to-eye contact being the most important feature)the tilt of the head, the entire body language is missing. Without those signals we sometimes miss-interpret what the voice on the telephone is trying to tell us.

Thank you Princessa for this very important contribution.

Yes, you are indeed, a Princess!

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

I hate my voice and hate to call people that I don't know, fearing they will be put off by my obnoxious tones. Must improve. The other day, I spoke on the phone to a young woman who'd left the area. It was nice to speak to her, but I could barely understand a word she said. Great tips here!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 5 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Dolores - If you would like my help, just let me know. Would be happy to train you. And the young woman who you could barely understand on the phone...this is the biggest complaint of all. Very frustrating. So glad you dropped by and keep me in mind. :)

Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

Very good tips.I needn't say more than has already been said above! Great hub.

Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

I do have a tendency to blur my words together and mumble, and let the ending of my sentences fade away. Thanks for the reminder. I hadn't thought about the look of the words, but maybe that will help me make sure that I enunciate correctly.

Kosmo profile image

Kosmo 4 years ago from California

Thanks for the tips, vocalcoach. One's speaking voice on the telephone or wherever is certainly important. Now I think I'll pay a little more attention to what I say and how I say it. Later!

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Kosmo-I'm so glad you liked these tips on the speaking voice. I appreciate your coming by and hope to see you soon.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

Very innovate hub topic, but are a vocal coach. I do think though we can all benefit from this hub and more like it I'm sure!

I probably shouldn't say this but I was told several times I have a "900" voice on the phone...I certainly don't look or feel sexy ;)

This was very interesting and I'm sure useful for many of us.

Voted up, useful and interesting.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

tillsontitan - Well, thank you so much. And a "900" voice is something to feel darn good about! Why not? Are you in the wrong jobmarket? :-)

Love you for voting up, useful and interesting!

vox vocis profile image

vox vocis 4 years ago

Great idea for a hub! You've recommended recording your own voice, and although I've done this a few times when I was preparing for my exams (I listened to the records while cooking or before falling asleep), I must say that I hate the sound of my voice on tape, video or CD. It sounds so unnatural, like it's not me who's speaking at all! I sound like I'm choking or like I'm sick or something. Other people say the same thing when they listen to themselves. Why is that so?

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

Great tips - I know that I often sound irritated and really need to work on my phone voice. I guess we could leave ourselves a message on the phone, to see how we sound, then work on improvements. I've got a lot to work on, as vox vocis (above) said, I hate the sound of my own voice.

Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

I need to record my voice. I don't like how it sounds and have always wondered what I can do to improve it. These tips are definitely worth a try- thanks so much for providing them :).

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

vox vocis - Hi there. Thanks for being here. I'm working on a hub about "Why you hate your speaking voice" and it should be completed soon. I give exercises and tips on how to speak with a rich, great sounding voice. Also, get into why we don't like our voice. I think this hub will help you. Again, much thanks!

Dolores - Hi . As I commented to vox vocis, my new hub for improving your speaking voice will be ready for publication soon. Take a look at it. Let me know if it helps you. Thanks!

Alecia - Most every human being hates their voice. That's why I'm finishing up a hub about it. You are not alone. There are more tips and info on my new hub. Hope to finish it soon. Thankyou.

Jasnav profile image

Jasnav 3 years ago

This is really good stuff - every one would like to sound better on the phone, and these tips are great to get one going.

Letting the phone ring for a couple of seconds while you gather your thoughts is also a good idea to potray a confident voice.

Another way would be to first think about what exactly you are going to say before you make that all important call. That way you can be sure you'll sound good.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Jasnav - Thank you for these excellent tips on how to improve your speaking phone voice. I like the idea of letting the phone ring while you gather your thoughts. And, as you suggested, thinking about what you are going to say before making a phone call is very helpful. Again, thanks!

Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

Great hub Audrey, I think that's one of the worst things that bothers me is when we can't understand each other on the phone. It drives me crazy to say, "What did you say?"

Perhaps it's because I'm a bad listener at times, I don't know. I like that you highlighted how to work this out properly. I have used the mirror before to show the articulation in my words. Good job on explaining this and giving all the details. Voting up and sharing.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 3 years ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Hello Kasman - How wonderful to see you here. It's been some time since I've found a new comment on this hub. I'm delighted! I doubt that you're a bad listener, and it's the responsibility of the speaker to articulate each and every word. Using the mirror is marvelous for receiving feedback for lips position training. I commend you! Thanks for the Up and for sharing.

Kasman profile image

Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

Anytime. I think it's also what any good actor or musician does anyway to learn how to articulate properly.

Jason Faith profile image

Jason Faith 23 months ago from Grand Rapids MN

very interesting, i try to be polite on the phone but that's about as far as it went. ty for giving me something i can use to improve business communications.

mary615 profile image

mary615 18 months ago from Florida

I have a very slow Southern voice, but sometimes I'm hard to understand. I have to really work on pronouncing every word to be understood! I do try and "smile" when I talk on the phone.

Voted UP, etc. and will share this timely Hub.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 18 months ago from Nashville Tn. Author

Hi Mary - I love the sound of a southern voice. Sounds like you're doing all the right things for your voice. Thanks for your generous votes and for sharing.

Teodora 4 weeks ago

Ah goodness I hate my voice on the phone! Its sooo high pitched, and a friend always wants to Skype me and I hate my voice! I've been trying to make it better, but I hardly see an improvement. I'll keep trying I guess!

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    Audrey Hunt (vocalcoach)1,688 Followers
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    Respected vocal coach Audrey Hunt believes singing is our birthright. "If you can speak you can sing." Sing with joy and passion.

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