Earlier today, UK-based B2B marketing company Expert Market sent me an infographic intended to help millennials make professional phone calls at work, especially in open office environments where there are other people around.
I thought at first it was a joke (because some of the advice is very bad), but there's enough good advice in a few of the points to make me wonder. So I'm posting it, followed by my comments and additions.
What the Infographic Gets Right (and Wrong)
- Get into a positive mental mindset to make a phone call. Good advice. Closing your eyes and imagining times you've felt happy and successful works better than motivational videos, though.
- Be clear on why you are calling. More good advice. I recommend putting the LinkedIn portrait of whomever you're calling on the screen. It helps keep you focused on the other person, rather than your own thoughts.
- Smile. Also good advice. Don't grin, though. You want to sound pleasant not like Joker. And speaking of jokers...
- Tell a joke. No, no, no, no, no. A witty remark, maybe, if you're naturally witty. But a "joke"?! Good heavens! Even comedians don't tell jokes any more. Awful advice. Ugh.
- Just relax. Yes, but not as shown. Learn to relax while sitting up straight with your head straight. Reclining as shown makes you sound like you're about to go to sleep.
- Get up on your feet. Yes, this works, but if you combine it with #5 above, you'll sound like a crazy person and look like a jack-in-the-box. Also, you should keep your focus on the LinkedIn photo on your screen.
- Use hand gestures. If you're using a headset (see the extra points below) and facing your screen (see #2 above), there's no reason why anyone would give you the hairy eyeball for doing your job. Personally, if somebody complained about me making a call from my office, I'd have a slightly different hand gesture in mind.
- Look good sound good. If you work in an open office, dress well because everyone is going to see you. If you work from a home office, you might as well just stay in your or sweats. Heck, I've closed many $$$ deals in my PJs.
- Use upbeat words. Well, yeah, OK, but don't go overboard or, again, you'll sound like a nut case. Vivid words, especially compliments, are more credible when delivered conversationally.
- ABC (Always Be Closing). Summarizing the call is a good idea, but that's not ABC. ABC is when a salesperson is driving towards the close through the entire conversation. It's usually obvious and also annoying.
Some Good Advice the Infographic Lacks
- Buy and use a high-quality headset. A headset keeps your hands free to take notes on your computer and it will keep ambient noise lower both for you and the person you're calling. That means you can talk in a normal voice and still be heard. Plan on spending about $150. I use Plantronics but there are other good brands out there.
- Listen more than you talk. When your mouth is moving you're not learning anything. If you hear yourself going on and on about something, stop. Then ask a question.
- Really listen. When the other person is speaking, don't listen to your internal dialog telling you what you want to say next. Listen intently to understand exactly what the other person is saying.
- Take notes. If you don't take notes, you'll forget what was said even before you have time to write the confirmatory email (see below). If you take notes on your computer, use a silent keyboard so that it doesn't sound like you're answering emails or something.
- Send a confirmatory email. Unless you're taping and transcribing a phone call, it's just so much hot air until it's been documented. After every important phone call, you should immediately write up your notes and clearly state any commitments that you or the other person made.