How I Learned to Slay a Conference Call
Whether it’s a project meeting, a client consultation, or a phone interview, the image (yes, image!) you project on a phone call can make a lasting impression on both your company and your personal brand.
When I started working with a more global audience, phone conferences slowly began to take the place of my usual face to face client interactions, and I certainly didn’t expect the transition to be as much of a learning curve as it ended up being.
The biggest thing for me was the beginning and the end of the call, particularly when multiple parties were on the line. Everything in between was gold for me – I knew what I was talking about, I was confident in my competencies, and I have always been able to communicate my point effectively. But the hellos and goodbyes were just awkward! How do you say good morning to four people who are simultaneously trying to say good morning to you, and each other? How do you transition from small talk to business without the awkward pause that signals the shift? How are they supposed to appreciate me in all my #PRETTYGIRL glory if they can’t even see how supremely I’m rocking these pumps right now?
Definitely a learning curve, but one that I learned to navigate with just a few little changes in my approach.
1. Dress the part.
#PRETTYGIRLS are always dressed to impress, and even if the people on the other line can’t see you, there’s something about rocking a killer boss chick outfit that just EXUDES confidence, even through the phone.
2. Control your environment.
Everything in your eye line, and everything within earshot is your environment. At the very least, make sure you’re in a space that’s free of distractions and clutter, but if you have more control then that, then go all out. I have motivational sayings on the wall of my office that are awesome to look at when I’m in a potentially stressful situation. Make your space as efficient and empowering as you can, and it will translate into your energy on every phone call.
3. Perfect, perfect posture.
Carry yourself as if the person or people you’re speaking to are sitting directly across from you. Sitting cross-legged on the sofa might seem comfy, but it could also naturally impact the impression or the answers you give.
4. Slow it down & watch your tone.
If you’re like me, you think fast, and you talk fast. I had to make a conscious effort to s l o w i t d o w n . If you’re not sure where your cadence should be falling, a helpful tip is to try and mimic the cadence of the person you’re speaking with. Paying attention to the tone of the conversation is also key. Find the balance between friendly and professional. Set it if you can get away with it, but if not, fall into an easy pace within the discussion.
5. Active listening.
They can’t see you, so they can’t tell whether you’re listening intently or whether you’ve dozed off on the other end of the line. Hopefully you’re engaged in a lively exchange, but if you find yourself listening for an extended period of time, make sure you punctuate in appropriate areas with simple words to show that you’re actively listening. “Okay.” “Yes.” “Of course.” (And so on and so forth.)
6. Do your homework.
More than anything, your comfort level on a call is going to be impacted by how comfortable you are with the subject matter at hand, so do your homework. Research the topic, research the participants, go into it with as much information as you can manage.
When you’ve set the stage for a killer phone conversation, even the hellos and goodbyes will come across way less awkward, and so much more representative of the confident, put-together #PRETTYGIRL that you are!