3 Foolproof Ways to Sound Professional on the Phone

When it comes to acting professional, face-to-face interactions usually come to mind, but what about on the phone? It’s hard enough to calm your nerves when talking to a potential employer or supervisor, but doing it over the phone can be extra tricky. One of the main things you might worry about is how your voice sounds, but there are tricks to make you strong and confident. Don’t be too self-conscious about how you sound; after all, it’s what you’re actually saying that matters most!

Expert Dr. Paul Bailo, author of The Essential Phone Interview Handbook and PR pros Meryl Weinsaft Cooper and Jessica Kleiman, co-authors of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Noticed, Hired and Rewarded at Work weigh in on how to make your voice sound professional over the phone.

1. Warm up your vocal cords

You can say as many tongue twisters and vocal exercises as you want, but there is an extra secret ingredient to making your voice sound smoother. “Having a teaspoon of honey can help to soothe your throat,” says Dr. Bailo. By doing this, you can avoid having to cough or clear your throat in the middle of an interview. This is the perfect way to prevent your voice from trailing off while answering an important question. Before you start reciting scales to warm up your voice, grab a spoonful of honey instead.

2. Slow it down

Here’s an important tip for all you fast-talkers. It’s normal to talk fast on the phone (especially when you’re nervous!), but it’s important to take the time to annunciate. “Talking in a slow natural voice will help you focus on each word you are saying,” explains Dr. Bailo. By slowing down, you will also have time to gather your thoughts and write down or remember any important information throughout the interview. “Taking time to write down notes and referring back to earlier parts of the conversation will help you seem engaged and smart,” say Cooper and Kleiman. Don’t rush the conversation; instead, speak slowly and clearly to help you in the event that you start to get tongue-tied.

3. Stay seated and keep smiling

As strange as it may sound, facial expressions and body language have an important role during a phone conversation. “Try to smile as you are speaking with your interviewer,” suggest Cooper and Kleiman. “Believe it or not, that smile will translate into a warmer tone in your voice.” Another thing you can try is sitting down while speaking on the phone. “Sitting down during your interview will help you have a stronger, more focused voice,” says Dr. Bailo. You wouldn’t lie down or frown during an interview, so don’t do it on the phone either!

Don’t be intimidated when talking to a future employer or supervisor on the phone. Instead, take the time to prepare your voice beforehand. This way, you can let go of those nerves and feel extra confident for your interview! Even though the person you're speaking with can’t see your face, they can still get a sense of how you interact with people based on how you speak on the phone. By the end of the conversation, you’ll know you’ve nailed that interview!