It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It


Your voice is a tool. A tool that can gain you business or lose you that next placement.

In our industry, so much of what we do is conducted over the phone and your tone of voice could be standing in your way of success. When talking to someone on the phone we do not have visual cues or body language to help us get our point across – all we have is our voice and if we do not come across as enthusiastic and sound as if we love what we are doing, we lose the attention of the person on the other end very quickly.
Unlike what most people think, speaking on the phone is not as easy as it looks. In a face-to-face conversation, words account for 7% of the message, tone of voice 34% and body language 59%. In a telephone conversation, your movements and face cannot be seen. It is therefore sometimes difficult to imagine the reactions of the person you are talking to, his or her look or hesitations. On the phone, tone of voice is therefore of the utmost importance. On the phone, your tone of voice and vocabulary will determine the success of your exchange. Professionalism, friendliness, knowledge and confidence have to all come through with your tone of voice.

Here are some ground rules to help you better communicate by phone.

Your Tone What does the tone of your voice sound like? Does it reflect happiness, enthusiasm, confidence, strength? Do you sound as if you know what you are talking about? Perhaps your tone reflects fear? Boredom?  Tape yourself and play back your calls. Develop a voice that will get you where you want to be in life.

Pitch As you develop your pitch, be both concise and specific. Before even trying to talk about your candidate or a job order, you must define the needs of your clients and candidates. Use complete sentences, and adopt a tone that is both courteous and directive. Always keep your voice lively and use simple words. When the caller talks, listen to him or her attentively and do not hesitate to take notes to organize your responses. Do not interrupt. Just indicate your presence by punctuating the conversation with short comments such as “I understand,” and “Really?”. The person should never feel alone on the line.

Voice When speaking and thinking about the key points you want to emphasis, make sure the inflections of your voice does just that. Inflection alone can change the meaning of a sentence.

Delivery Write out your script. Practice, roleplay. The delivery of your message is key. Rehearse your candidate and client presentations until you can do say what you need to say with confidence.

Sound What do you sound like? Have you ever really just listened to your own voice? Keep a mirror in front of you and make sure you are always smiling. You need to come across as if you really believe in what you are saying and like you want to be making this call. This may seem obvious, but not everyone does it. Practise talking while smiling. Even if the caller does not see you, he or she can “hear” the smile energizing your pitch over the phone lines. Don’t overdo it, however—the key is to find the right balance between enthusiasm and being natural.

Enthusiasm The energy in your voice allows people to feel like they are in the room with you. Does your energy make them want to be in a room with you? Listen to the person on the other end and mimic their words and their speed.

Corporate Image There are only two valid reasons for making a candidate or client wait—transferring a call or searching for information. In all cases, specify how long he or she will be put on hold, keeping in mind that a minute always seems longer on the telephone. Book a time and call back later if the waiting time is too long. When transferring a call, it is up to you to explain the person’s situation to your co-worker. There is nothing more annoying than having to repeat your story several times! If you transfer someone, specify that you have familiarized yourself with his or her file. Always remember that you embody your corporate image via your voice.

Nadia Gruzd