Hate talking on the phone? You’re not alone!

Linda Coyle

Hate talking on the phone? You’re not alone!

Do you find that you’re better face to face than talking to people on the phone? Talking on the phone can be more challenging than face to face for many reasons, and some people can experience a specific phobia regarding speaking on the phone. Three key features which make phone speaking more challenging are:

You can’t see each other: We don’t get to see the other person’s facial expression, so it’s harder to read their reactions. They can’t see our facial expression or gestures, such as nodding, or eye contact.

Speech quality is reduced over the phone: This is because phones do not transmit all the sounds that are part of the human voice, particularly very low frequencies and very high frequencies. This explains why it can be easier to be misheard over the phone, and also why we find it so hard to recognise letters over the phone, and so need to pair them with words, such as using the radio alphabet, e.g. A for alpha.

The buck stops with your voice: The success of how you communicate rests solely on the sound of your voice. This can feel like a huge amount of pressure, and create stress and tension in the body. It can also be particularly challenging in an era when we can find that the mobile is used for anything but making and receiving calls! However, to flip this another way, it’s a wonderful opportunity to maximise your voice as a way to connect with others, as through our voice we can readily show warmth, connection and interest…an emoji would never come close!

If you want to improve at your phone skills, below are some tips to help you to be more successful when you speak on the phone.

 

1) Connect with your body, before you make or answer a call. Put your feet on the floor. Notice how your body is touching the chair, notice your head, notice what your arms are doing. Taking 20 seconds to slowing scan down through your body and just connect with it.

 

2) Wait before you answer or dial a number. Rather than jumping to answer the phone, let it ring a few times, and just breathe. Again, this gets you grounded and more present. The same applies before you call someone. Take a few seconds to just breathe.

 

3) Facial expression: Smile…No the person can’t see you, but smiling, will do a couple of things:

  • Helps you feel happier and more at ease (it’s very effective…try it!)
  • Help you convey warmth, a sense of connection with the other person
  • Helps your speech to be clearer, as you are likely to speak with more energy.

4) Say your name clearly. Do you ever pick up voice mails from people and you can’t get their name from it…even when you listen a few times? Our names are so familiar to us that we don’t think about how we say them, and we don’t do them justice. There’s a great Ted Talk by Laura Sicola called ‘Want to sound like a leader? Start by saying your name right.’ which is well worth watching.

5) (optional) Have a listen to this great song : by Prince, sung by Alicia Keys How come you don’t call me!

 

Do you have any tips to add? Do let me know.

If you feel you need more help at speaking with more confidence, be it on the phone or face to face, then check out my Speak with confidence services.

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Why “(Just) calm down” is bad advice for nervous speakers.

Linda Coyle

Saying, “Calm down,” to a nervous speaker is just not helpful!

 

Many people find public speaking difficult, even terrifying, and given the choice, would rather not have to talk, but unfortunately (or perhaps more accurately fortunately!) we sometimes need to do something, even though it terrifies us! Typically people feel nervous when faced with a speaking situation. While we may experience nervousness differently in our body, it’s something that we can all relate to. a feeling which we can all relate to. Symptoms of nerves when we’re about to speak include sweaty palms, racing heart beat, tight chest, dry mouth and/or nausea. So how do you cope with these anxious feelings when you’re feeling nervous about speaking? Advice people hear, be it from others or within their own heads is to “(Just) calm down.” I don’t agree! Watch my video to find out more!

I’ve three problems with the advice, “Calm down”:

1) It doesn’t work: If you’ve ever tried to think yourself into a calm state by saying ‘calm down’, then let me know! Frequently people tell me that they try to tell themselves to calm down, but that they still struggle with presenting, and/or their voice shakes.

2) You’re seeing nerves as a problem: Feeling nervous is energy flowing through our body from adrenaline. Adrenaline energises us and gets us ready for action. We want this energy so that we can speak with passion and enthusiasm.

3) You’re fighting against your body. Our bodies have such wisdom, and ultimately if we fight against our body we lose. Instead, listening to the internal signals that we’re getting and accepting them can empower us to move forward, rather than be stuck in a state of fear and dread.

So, the solution is to embrace these nerves as energy that’s in your body and let it flow. Sounds great in theory, but how do we do this? In my workshops I share different ways in which you can learn to do this. One simple technique is to re-frame it from nervous…to excited. This technique was researched by Alison Wood Brooks (2014) who found that people who  said to themselves, “I’m excited” before carrying out one of three tasks- karaoke singing, public speaking and Maths, performed better than those who said, ‘I’m nervous’ or who said nothing at all. She called this ‘reappraising anxiety as excitement’. So, the next time you need to give a presentation, focus on feeling excited, and let me know how you get on!

Other articles related to speaking with confidence which may interest you:

Lisa Kelly’s review of her top 4 speakers at Womens Inspire Network Conference in October 2017. I was delighted to be included in her list!

“You had me at hello,”…First impressions do count!

Linda Coyle

You had me at hello! First Impressions do count

Listeners readily form an impression of the personality of a speaker, and this is not easily changed! This phenomenon has been dubbed the ‘Jerry Maguire effect’ from the infamous line in the film Jerry Maguire. It is based on research which has shown that listeners make millisecond decisions about a person’s personality, and whether or not they trust someone, based on the sound of their voice.

Researchers McAleer et al (2014), in the University of Glasgow conducted a study in which listeners rated 64 different audio clips of speakers saying the word ‘hello’ across a range of personality traits. These included trustworthiness, aggressiveness, confidence, dominance and warmth.

They found that judgements were consistent across listeners. In particular, they found that  men who said hello with a higher pitched voice were deemed to be more trustworthy, but that for women it was based on a greater rise in pitch between the first and second vowel of ‘he-llo’.

So, what does this mean? Well while first impressions are influenced by a range of factors, such as appearance, facial expression, and body language, it is clear that the sound of your voice is crucial.

So, if your voice is not transmitting your authentic, vibrant personality, then you need to do something about it….but don’t worry I can help!

Find out more

 


					

Is your voice a bit worse for wear today? Here’s some vocal first aid!

Linda Coyle

Hoarse after a night out?

Perhaps you’re hoarse after a night of chatting over background noise, strained after a week of talking at work, or croaky at the end of giving a days’ training. If so, here’s some vocal first aid!

 

  1. Water, water water: Our vocal folds need lots of water, and more so when we’re doing a lot of talking in background noise. As well as drinking water, grab a beauty steamer and sit over it for 20 minutes to hydrate your vocal folds. One word of advice, don’t launch straight into doing a lot of talking after this, as it could strain your voice.
  2. Rest: Seems obvious, but it’s important to remember that our voice is housed within our body, so if we’re worn out it can manifest in our voice.
  3. Don’t whisper: Whispering, and particularly ‘stage whispering’ is really bad for the voice. If you’re hoarse, talk quietly, but don’t push it.
  4. Limit the amount of talking you do: OK so some of you may laugh at this prospect! However, taking time out from talking is important to give the vocal folds a bit of a rest.
  5. Try not to use the phone: Talking on the phone puts huge strain on the phone as we speak with more effort than when face to face.
  6. Go easy on the caffeine: What! Well caffeine dries our body, and so can dry the voice….but one or two are just fine…just have a glass of water with them!

Perhaps this is a one off, but if you find that your voice is hoarse or weak frequently then it’s important to do something about it. Because, as with any part of our body, if we abuse it repeatedly, it eventually lets us know that enough is enough! No, you don’t need to forego talking, but you do need to re-connect with your free and flexible voice…and I can help.

Find out more

© [2018] Linda Coyle, Speak Brilliantly. All rights reserved.