The past year has marked a come back for the old fashioned phone call. While COVID-19 made internet use spike by 20%, phone calls saw an even bigger increase, with Verizon reporting a more than doubling of the phone calls made on Mother’s Day, what is typically one of the most popular days to pick up the phone (don’t forget to call your mom!). AT&T said cell calls had risen 35%. If you’re sick of buffering and tired of having to put on your Zoom shirt, maybe it’s time to give a phone call a try.

I used to hate talking to people on the phone. But when I was working my way through college, I picked up a gig as a telemarketer and kicked that fear in the face. Nothing gets you past your discomfort with the phone faster than cold calling. I’ve given directions to areas in the country that I’ve never been, discussing the traffic struggles and scheduling conflicts like a local. While cold calling in the sales world is the kind of high-stakes, palm sweating phone call most people don’t need to make, it taught me some invaluable skills about connecting with others through a phone.

how to Make an Impact Over the Phone

The power of a connection over the phone may seem impossible. However, sometimes it just means making a few tweaks in order to make connection over the phone possible. When you can’t meet in person, and a video chat doesn’t fit the need either, a phone call can be the ticket. But there is an art to the conversation. Different mediums call for different measures.

1. Volume Matters

Whether the person you’re talking to is hard of hearing or they’re a soft speaker, you need to adapt your volume to match or meet them. The surest way to miscommunicate over the phone is to not be heard. It all starts with you listening to the other person. If you hear a quieter voice on the line and you happen to project a little more when you talk, make sure you  drop your volume down a notch or so. On the flip side, if the other person asks you to clarify a few times, you may need to be a little louder. It’s important to listen for your cues and adapt.

2. Speed and Rhythm Play a Role

Some people are fast talkers. Some people talk in paragraphs. Know who you are and listen for the pace of the person you’re calling. If you talk quickly, but that’s not what you’re hearing in response, you need to put on the brakes a little. Similarly, you might need to adjust the amount of content you’re sending based on what you’re receiving. With a similar pace and rhythm in the conversation, it’s easier to feel more confident and connected to the other caller. It’s disconcerting when there’s a mismatch, and that can lead to distrust. If you just try to keep up with the other person, it can help smooth over any typical gaps and hesitation that you might have.

3. Energy Has a Dial

We all have different energy levels, and everyone is going through different life experiences. Without the benefit of facial expressions or the ability to see the emotions that flicker through eye contact, it’s harder to know what’s happening in the world of the person you are calling. Again, listening is key. If they sound a little down, you don’t have to match that, but you may not want to sound like you’re bouncing off the walls either. Keep your hand on your energy dial and adjust it accordingly to what you’re hearing on the other end of the line.

4. Extremes Are Never Fun

There’s personality, and then there’s over the top. The key is to make a connection with the person on the phone. You don’t want to make them uncomfortable or make them cringe when they see your number pop up on their caller ID. So whether you operate in short and to the point mode, or you speak in run-on sentences, just make sure you’re not taking your personality and style to the extreme.

Next Step: Pick Up the Phone

No one has time for every conversation to take place in person, and some things are better to discuss out loud than over email. The old fashioned phone call might have gotten upgraded to a cell phone, but it’s still an important part of your communication toolkit. Whatever your communication style is, when you pick up the phone, listen to the other person on the call, and match them.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.