Thursday, August 2, 2012

4 Tips For Making the Dreaded Phone Call

If you’re a little on the shy side like I am, making phone calls can be a bit like pulling teeth. I get that it’s important to communicate well with people in order to get the right information for writing stories and fact-checking them. So much of my job revolves around making phone calls, but every time I go to pick up the phone, my heart starts racing and my words seem to stumble over themselves.

These past few weeks, I’ve been trying to come up with ways to help myself get over this fear. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

1. Write out a script. Plan out exactly what you’re going to say before you make the call. I’ve done this a few times and it definitely helped. It’ll help keep you calm, cool and collected while asking for the information you need. The only downside is it that it could be really obvious you’re reading directly from a page. Avoid this by writing it out and then practicing reading it in your head a few times. Also make sure that you’re ready for what the person on the other side of the line has to say!

2. Practice difficult names and words first. There are a lot of words we’ve read and haven’t really said out loud (foie gras and hors d’ouevres are a few that I’ve encountered so far.) If you don’t know how to say a word, ask another intern or look it up in the dictionary. If you’re more confident with a difficult word, you’re less likely to get nervous and stumble over it while talking on the phone. You’ll also make yourself sound more professional to whomever you’re talking to. Practice the names of people if they’re especially long or confusing, just in case that’s the person you end up talking to. That way you can avoid as much embarrassment as possible!

3. Be confident and friendly. The conversation will go a lot more smoothly if both of you are comfortable. Be nice while still remaining professional. The less you sound like a robot, the better.

4. Don’t overthink it and risk psyching yourself out. I’ve found that the more I think about messing up, the more likely I am to do it. It’s self-sabotage really. I try making the call the second before I get nervous about doing it. The minute I start having doubts, I pick up the phone and just do it.

Whether it’s fact-checking, doing photo requests, or even doing a phone interview for a story, having a good phone presence is essential. I’m sure many of you are gifted speakers and will have no problem with this at all. I love working at the Mag, so I’m trying to get past my shyness to get the job done.

I feel like I’ve been doing better, but here’s hoping that I’ll have it perfected by the end of the summer!

Is there something you get nervous about at work? Got any tips for getting over your nerves?

Until next Thursday,
Ed's Regional Intern

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