If you own or work for a company I'm sure you have to handle telephone calls rather frequently. And, the way you sound when someone converses with you over the phone can make a serious impact on the person you're speaking with. Research has shown us that a pleasant-sounding voice can help initiate sales-related conversations, whereas, an unpleasant one can kill the conversation. While not everyone is blessed with a voice that soothes the soul, there are some helpful techniques to ensure that you sound warm and welcoming over the phone. Whether you're a business owner, a manager, or a receptionist, learning how to improve the way your voice sounds is an excellent investment. Trust me, it comes with countless benefits.
Here are ten of our helpful tips to turning your voice into one that anyone would want to hear.
Use the right technology
Poor sound quality can destroy a phone call in seconds. More often than not interference in sound is due to the hardware and accessories glitching. Other issues can occur due to low quality or poor connections to your computer or other devices though. Make sure everything is plugged in the right places, check for the sound quality by making test calls, and replace your old hardware periodically so that your voice comes out crystal clear. Be certain that all your software programs are updated too. Especially if you are using a mobile device.
Position your mouthpiece Properly
No matter what communication device you're using if you don't place your mouthpiece at the correct angle and distance from your mouth you just won't sound right. You may either sound like the mic is in your mouth or you're off in the distance somewhere which, makes your voice barely audible to the person on the other line. Be sure that you position your mouthpiece correctly and run a few test calls with your colleagues or employees to hear how you sound. Do this as many times as you need to. You want to get the distance and positioning right. And, keep in mind, it's specific to each device you're using to communicate with.
I can't say this enough for various reasons, but it's very important that you drink plenty of water. Especially when you're talking often and for extended periods of time. If your throat goes dry you'll sound hoarse or tired. And, no one cares to listen to anyone who sounds raspy like Gollum. Not even Lord of the Rings fans. Make sure that you stay hydrated, eat a healthy diet, and take good care of yourself. Always keep plenty of water at hand to help keep your voice in its best form.
Smile when you speak
This might sound crazy to some of you out there, but a caller can sense whether you're smiling or grimacing on the other end of that phone call. Even if you're not in the mood to smile, try to at least relax your facial muscles. A relaxed sounding voice is better than a tense one.
Did you know that it takes 62 muscles to frown? That's a whole lot of work for your face. And, a tight expression equals a harder sounding voice. On the other hand, when you smile you only use 26 facial muscles and you sound much softer. So, by smiling you work a lot less and you get better results. I don't know about you, but I'm all for doing less and gaining more when it comes to working out my muscles.
Simply put, smiling isn't as much work as you'd think and the benefits are, well...it's hard not to smile about them.
Take rests in between calls
Getting the right amount of rest is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you sound pleasant over the phone. When you're physically and emotionally drained you just won't sound cheerful. Instead, your voice will sound dull, lethargic, and even sometimes annoyed. These negative feelings are transferred to the caller who can easily become distracted by your tone. If you wish to sound better you need to schedule enough rest time in between your calls. A well-rested voice will naturally sound warm and friendly.
Pronounce Your words clearly and concisely
Your next step to sounding great over the phone is to pay attention to the way you pronounce your words. Especially those that you use frequently. No matter which part of the world you're from, pronouncing words the way they're supposed to sound will make a huge difference in being comprehensible to whomever you're speaking to.
For English, we recommend that you pick up Daniel Jones’ Pronunciation Dictionary and keep it on your desk at all times. This book teaches you how to pronounce every word in both American and British English while also providing information about various other available pronunciations. It's a very helpful tool to have on hand.
If you sound like you're in a hurry, your caller can tell. They may interpret your tone as impatient and distracted. And, no one wants to speak to someone who sounds impatient with them.
Try not to speak too fast. Slow down when you're talking with a caller. This doesn’t mean you have to read out each word as if you were teaching a second-grade classroom. But, you do need to ensure that your speech comes out at an even pace.
Helpful tip: Try taking three deep breaths before you answer the phone or make a call. This helps pace your speech and you"ll sound much more pleasant and friendly for it.
Listen carefully and repeat back what you hear
If you want to sound better on a call you need to be considerate and make sure that you're truly listening to the other person. Don't just wait for your turn to speak. Listen closely and repeat back to the caller their main points or concerns. Confirming the information a caller provides you is an important rule that every virtual receptionist or call center agent follows. And, there's a reason for that. People feel heard when you recite back to them what they've just told you.
Always allow the person on the other line to complete their sentences. Never cut them off to fill in information that you assume they're about to provide you with. No one likes to be interrupted in the middle of a sentence. If you feel you have something to say that you might forget during your caller's explanation have a notepad and a pen ready. Sometimes, old fashioned tips and tricks come in handy. Even in these postmodern times. A notebook and pen are and always have been a helpful tool for recording and recalling information.
Keep all of your resources in order and easily accessible. Make your workstation a clutter-free zone. When speaking with a caller you shouldn’t have to start searching for a document, a folder, a note, or a file. Everything should be within reach. You shouldn’t be left struggling to search for something either on the phone or at your desk.
If you must look for something consider placing the caller on a brief hold rather than speak as you're rummaging around for the information you need. In fact, a good virtual receptionist knows that being organized can reduce the duration of a call kept on hold. And, every second counts.
When you speak confidently it completely changes your tone of voice. It shows that you're competent, well-organized, and a good communicator. If you're selling something a lack of confidence in your tone can imply a lack of confidence in your product or service. Believe it or not, confidence is a skill that you can practice.
If you're not a self-assured person, pretend you are. There's an old saying that you might be familiar with that fits this scenario perfectly. "Act like you belong there." No one will question your authority if you let them know you're already exactly where you're supposed to be. A good virtual receptionist isn't someone who is always fearless or all-knowing but they are someone who performs with confidence.
In order to enhance a caller's experience, you shouldn't only provide great customer care but also ensure that you carry your voice well. Your voice quality and its tone can often make more of a difference than what it is you're actually trying to say. After all, you're not just providing a service or selling a product here. You're trying to make a difference in someone's life. Your voice is a crucial part of how your callers perceive not only you but your business as well.