Have a fear of conference calls? Do you have something that’s known as telephone anxiety? For some, hoping on a call is a breeze, but for others, it’s up there with being as daunting as sky diving. The second you dial in, you start to panic – you’re not sure what to do, how long to wait before introducing yourself and how exactly to get stuck in with the conversation. If this is you, then here’s our top tips to improve your confidence when you have a fear of calls.
Rather than sending yourself into a nervous panic before dialling in, treat that as your reminder to take a deep breath in and out before you start speaking. Focussing on your breathing has a natural calming effect on the body, so doing this once (maximum twice – so you don’t keep other people hanging) will help you focus your attention on something other than panic or distress.
If you find conference calls awkward, then highlighting this will only make it awkward for both you and the other attendees. So a good thing to remember is to memorise and practice your greeting – both for work and out of work. Whether you answer the phone with ‘Hello, Laura speaking’ or just a simple ‘hello’ to your friends, practicing this is the only way to get used to it.
You don’t want to talk too fast, too slow, too aggressive or too unsure of yourself, so finding that medium will ensure that other people don’t feel uncomfortable as a result. Even if that means practicing on a sibling or close friend, this will help you get accustomed to greetings.
On a conference call, no one can see your facial expressions or hand gestures, so your tone is everything. If you’re speaking fast and loud, you’re going to come across as abrupt, if you have a monotone, then you’re going to be perceived as uninterested. Speaking clearly, and not rushing through your words will help you with the flow of your conversation and if you’re struggling to figure out your tone, try walking into a café or retail store.
This is similar to a phone conversation, there will be times where you know the people on the line and other times that you don’t, so making sure you’re polite and avoiding one word answers is the way to go.
In the stress of making sure you don’t forget all your questions, you also don’t want to inundate the callers with questions that’ll make everyone one feel overwhelmed. Like a conversation that you have with someone in-person, it goes back and forth, so let the call take its course and take turns to speak. That’ll let the conversation naturally flow and help you feel more comfortable.
Silence is a major issue that people are concerned about on conference calls, but the reality is, is it really that bad? It’s only awkward if you make it awkward, so it’s time to get used to the silence, as it can help people pause and it can help people gather their thoughts. So if you’re trying to break your fear of telephone calls, embrace the silence!
Want to know more? Take a look at the conference call etiquette so you don’t make a rookie error on a conference call!