Smile when you pick up or click on the phone and continue as you talk, regardless of who’s calling or what the conversation is about. The person on the other end of the line can hear a smile, she can also hear a frown, smirk, and rolling of the eyes. Your articulation improves when your jaw is loosened up; your voice intonation and cadence is more appealing; and you’re less likely to be boringly dull.
Your telephone voice is the equivalent of the in-person body language people use to size you up. They hear your sincerity, passion, enthusiasm, conviction – your personality – or lack thereof, in your voice. Their positive reading of you gets you set for a more positive outcome; similarly, a negative reading can start you off on the wrong foot, annoy, hurt your personal reputation and the reputation of your company, and cost you a connection.
Have a calm-intensity tone and tempo when speaking in person, on the phone, or on video: That being an audible, modulated, matter-of-fact tone of voice; steady and even-keeled without useless filler words (ah, uh, umh, okay, etc.). I call it a ‘pass the salt’ tone of voice because no matter how excited or agitated, you still usually have an even keel when asking for ‘the salt’ across the table. The expression is just a mnemonic device to remind you to speak like you’d like to be spoken to. Fast, high, shrill, studiously slow, sing song, brusque, too quiet, or too loud – each sends its own emotional message – generally not a positive one.
As one executive coaching client told me what his own father used to tell him, “Your words should be like canned green beans, soft and tender, not like corn nuts; makes it easier if you have to eat them later.”