telephone habits

The Worst Presentation Line

The phone rang this morning. It was a telemarketer on the line. He asked, "Are you the owner?" I said "Yes".  "Do you accept credit cards?" was his second question.  Those questions qualify the prospect so they were appropriate to ask.  Then without testing for interest, or asking me about my issues and needs, he said, "I just happen to be in the area..."  He blew it.  I couldn't get the words out fast enough. "No, no, no. No thanks". And I hung up the phone. What area was he talking about? I happened to be working at home so I wasn't in my usual area which is my business office.  Why would I want to meet with him? I think he was selling a merchant account but I don't know. Maybe it was a service to analyze charges.   He gave me no reason to want to meet him. If you're a telemarketer, you don't want to get me on the phone. I'm not the most gracious of  prospects. Cold calling is tough but it's even more difficult in today's times. A cold call is an interruption in someone's day.  Unless you grab their attention immediately, they're going to hang up. Cold calling is a presentation.  His approach was like a speech without an opening. Imagine standing before your audience and saying, "Is everybody here a business owner?" Does everybody use merchant accounts?"  "I'll be in the back setting up demonstrations." You would have a mass exodus. A good presentation begins with a quick hello and introduction and then a grabber or hook.  Public speaking is about communication. And communication is about a relationship between a sender and a receiver.  What message are you sending? Your intention may be positive, but the real meaning of the communication is the effect it has on the receiver.  If you intend to compliment someone and they receive it as an insult, then the insult was the actual message.

In the case of the telemarketer, he needed to change the script. A common mistake in presentations is to memorize lines and deliver them mechanically. The best speakers and presenters connect with the audience and build a relationship of trust. Public speaking is a conversation with the audience whether it's one-on-one, on the telephone, or to a large audience. It's all public speaking.

How to Give Good Phone-Six Tips for An Effective Audio Conference

Nothing beats face-to-face communication. But it seems that we're communicating more often by audio conference. My clients are continually challenged by this medium. It's no wonder. Visual communication, which is 55% of the message, is missing. So here are six tips to get the results you want from an audio conference.

  1. Send the agenda in advance to all callers. It will give introverts or international participants time to digest the material.
  2. Set the expectations at the beginning of the call. Tell them to mute their phones, announce their names before speaking, hit the keypad if they have a question.
  3. Assign a room monitor. Conference calls can be chaotic. To keep control, ask each site to select a point person. That person will speak for the group when there are technical difficulties or communication challenges.
  4. Test equipment by calling in 10 minutes early. This will give the technical person time to troubleshoot.
  5. Count to four before you answer. There may be audio delays. People need a pause to absorb what you just said. Rapid speaking will cause listeners to lose the message.
  6. Engage the listeners. If you're a talking head for 30 minutes, they'll be checking email. Check in periodically and ask for questions and feedback. Require them to do something. Example: "Draw a circle. Put your project in the middle. Now draw 6 spokes around the circle. Write each module on the spokes." Having more than one speaker will keep their attention longer.

And don't forget to recap the follow-up steps so nothing falls through the cracks. Remember an audio conference is a presentation.

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