Talking on the Phone in English

Here are some suggestions for successful business phone calls:

  1. Try to answer the call on the third ring. It is best not to answer after only one ring as the caller needs to be ready for the call and if we answer on the first ring she may not have heard the phone start ringing yet and may be taken off-guard if we answer so quickly. Answering on the third ring best ensures a good beginning to the call.

  2. Introduce yourself. First thing, introduce yourself. Whether I am answering or making the call, my first words should include the name of my company or the department or office the caller has reached -- "This English for Business ONE. How may I help you?" OR "David Luff's office, good morning." OR "Hello, this is David Luff. How can I help you?" If I am the caller, I begin the call by saying Hello, this is David Luff. May I please speak with John Smith.

  3. Speak slowly, clearly, and at a conversational volume. If I speak too quickly or unclearly, the person I am speaking with might have to ask me to repeat everything I just said. If I speak too softly, I might not be understood and if nobody likes talking on the phone with someone who yells in their ear.

  4. Avoid speakerphone. Only use speakerphone if absolutely necessary, for example, if someone is in the room with you whom you would like to include in the conversation.

  5. Listen actively and take notes on what is said. Active listening includes asking open-ended questions that reflect on what the person you are speaking with has said. Taking notes is the best way to make sure you remember the important points of the call.

  6. Use proper language. Use language that is appropriate in polite conversation. Avoid technical jargon that your caller may not be familiar with.

  7. Remain pleasant. A smile in your voice is the same in any language.

  8. Ask permission before you put somebody on hold or transfer a call. When transferring a call, do not "blind transfer" if at all possible. Tell the person the call is for who is calling and what they told you the call was in reference to.

  9. If you don't know something, say so. Nobody knows everything. It's perfectly fine to say, "I'm sorry, but I don't know the answer to that." If appropriate, offer to find the answer and get back to them with it.

  10. Listen to your voicemails, check your messages, and call people back promptly.

We recently had a video chat about talking on the phone in English. If you would like to join us on a Wednesday video chat, and, by the way, they are free, by all means come chat with us! Click this link to register for our free video chat.


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