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We often spend so much time thinking about what we’re going to say that it’s easy to overlook something equally important: HOW we say it. These inflections in our voices actually influence the listener’s perception of you and the general outcome heavily. These becomes even more important when the first contact you have with a client is a phone conversation, where your entire first impression is based on your voice and what you have to say. Given how critical our ability to communicate effectively with customers is, here are 3 tips and reminders about how to make your voice itself as viable a tool as your sales pitch.

1. Be Clear

Enunciate any important information thoroughly. In a world as distraction-filled as ours, it’s hard to catch everything the person on the other end of the phone is saying, even when you’re trying to stay focused. Make sure for any contact information or anywhere there might be confusion with spelling, use clear references or a phonetic alphabet. The NATO Phonetic Alphabet is a great long-standing tool for coherent spelling explanation over radio or phone. Understandably, you may not have the time to learn it perfectly, but even your own personal approximation goes a long way to ensuring you’re understood. (Just make sure the words you choose are unique enough not to cause further confusion.)

2. Move Your Face

Don’t hold back the expressions that accompany emotions. Even on the phone, the natural facial response to certain emotions impacts how your voice sounds, and a lack of expression could even deal a blow to your voice’s sound of authenticity. Holding your face still will only make you sound monotonous and disinterested, so don’t be afraid to move your face, it’s better to look over-enthusiastic than bored to death.

3. Avoid Unnecessary Noises

As much as possible, try to avoid making unnecessary noises while you’re speaking. Often, people will fill the gaps in their speech with uhms and head scratches. I’m sure at this point you’ve heard and seen a hundred times that this is a beginner’s mistake, but less discussed is that the unnecessary noises don’t stop there. Try to make sure you have as few interruptions as possible, including things like clearing your throat or stopping to drink some water every 30 seconds. Try to get your hydration and throat clearing done beforehand, because when you’re speaking in person, the more often you stop to tackle some minor irritation the heavier your listeners’ eyes will feel on you as you speak. Conversely on the phone, the more you stop to handle something on your end, the easier it is for your listener to lose concentration and start thinking about what they’re planning on having for dinner.

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