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7 Tips on How to Make Phone Calls, From Someone Who Does It For Their Job

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

If you talk to anyone under the age of 25, they will almost definitely admit that they get nervous when making phone calls. We’ve all been there—laying on your bed, phone in hand, trying to will yourself to just press the button and dial. Sometimes something as simple as making a doctor’s appointment just feels impossible.

I used to feel this way. Once I sat on the couch for two hours before finally working up the courage to call a local restaurant to ask them to help fund a school event. But I’ve found a way to overcome these nerves: I got a job at my university’s alumni engagement center. For about 10 hours a week, I sit at a desk and call alumni after alumni. When they answer, I strike up a conversation about their time at college and then politely ask them to give money to the university. These calls can be awkward as alumni can be rude, I could stutter over my words and sound ridiculous. But despite all of these potential problems, most alumni are very pleasant to talk to, and I haven’t yet considered quitting even after a bad call. 

To anyone who struggles like I used to, here are some tips for making phone calls that my coworkers and I swear by.

1. Remember that they might not even answer the phonE.

Nine times out of 10, no one answers my phone calls. I spend most of my shifts hanging up the phone and dialing a new number. This phenomenon is no different for regular people or workplaces that you may be calling. You could luck out and not have to talk at all, so don’t waste more than five minutes freaking out over a call.

2. prepare a script

My work provides all callers with scripts to use when asking alumni to give to university funds. While most of us have memorized the scripts, they were incredibly helpful when I first started calling, and they helped calm my nerves. Before you make a phone call, write out a script, whether that be bullet points of things you want to talk about or an incredibly detailed script that begins with, “Hi, my name is…”. This will help take some of the pressure off of you to say the perfect thing and hopefully will keep you from forgetting anything and having to, God forbid, call them back.

3. Take a deep breath, slow down and don’t feel embarrassed about repeating yourself.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve started talking a mile a minute over the phone and had to stop, pause and start all over again. Talking over the phone is hard! We’re used to talking quickly in real life and sometimes our speed just doesn’t sound as good over the phone. We all do this, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Whenever that happens, just take a pause, take a deep breath and try again. Also, make sure to enunciate more than you would in real life and spell things out. This may feel awkward, but it is much better than someone getting the wrong information or having no idea what you’re talking about. 

4. Don’t be afraid to interrupt.

Phone conversations can be difficult because people can’t see each other’s faces and expressions. It’s easy for someone on the phone to not understand what you’re asking and go on a completely unrelated tangent. This happens to me all the time when I ask alumni to give to the university. When this happens, it’s best to politely interrupt them to explain what I really meant before they get ahead of themselves. This applies for other phone calls, like when your dentist starts scheduling an appointment for a day that you’re not available. I know it seems rude, but just do it before you end up agreeing to something you don’t want to.

5. It’s their job to talk to you.

The thing to remember is that whoever you’re calling—a restaurant to make a reservation, a salon to make an appointment, your university’s IT department to fix your account—they’re getting paid to talk to you. You’re not an inconvenience. Talking to you is their job. In fact, that employee may prefer talking to you on the phone compared to whatever other task their boss wants them to do. So ask as many questions as you need to get the answer and talk as long as you need to.

6. no one will remember your call.

Whoever you’re calling likely talks to people all day. Even if you have the weirdest, most awkward phone call ever, they’ll probably mention it to one coworker and then forget about it. People can’t possibly remember all the calls they make, and yours is no exception. The only call I remember from my nine months at the call center is the one where someone picked up and told me that the alumni I was calling had been in prison for the past three years. So as long as that’s not you, no one will remember your call.

7. smile before you dial.

We say this at work all the time, sometimes as a joke, but it really does help. If you’re making an important phone call to someone like a big donor or a potential future employer, this can be a great way to start the call. All people have to go off on a phone call is your voice, so smiling, talking enthusiastically and being confident makes a difference. I can’t tell you how many alumni decide to give money just because they truly enjoyed talking to me or another caller. You could stumble over every word or mess up your script, but if you were fun to talk to, that’s all anyone will remember. 

Making phone calls can be a daunting task. But at the end of the day, it’s a part of life. The person on the other end of the phone isn’t going to remember much of anything once you hang up, so just relax, have some confidence and get the call over with. Try these tips out, and if all else fails, get a job at a call center.

Meredith is a sophomore at SLU and is excited to write for HerCampus! She enjoys reading, writing, cooking and watching reality tv and dreams about moving to the West Coast to work a for non-profit organization.
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