The Top 10 Ways Your Voice Can Advance Your Career

Today’s post is written by Rebekah Crawford, the co-founder of Jobinnerview, an online e-learning course that teaches people how to successfully pass the job interview process so they land the job. 

Have you ever received a phone call from someone you didn’t know and after only a minute or two, you had already formed an opinion about what kind of person they were? Maybe they had a small, timid voice and you dismissed them immediately as a pushover. Or they spoke so fast you pegged them as the sort to honk the second the light turned green. Just as with any first impression, it wasn’t their wording you were paying attention to; it was all the non-verbal cues you were picking up on that either made you “like” the person or wish they would just hang up and leave you alone.
The mistake many of us make is assuming if we can’t be seen, we can’t be judged. In fact, it’s just the opposite; when the only clue we have is a voice, we are even more attuned because we are desperately trying to categorize the person on the other end. It’s like what they say happens to blind people; all of their other senses work overtime to compensate for the missing sense, sight.
As a recruiter, I almost always conduct a phone interview with the candidate first. I feel I have a much stronger intuition about the person when I can’t use my other senses and about 98% of the time; my hunch pays off. If I judged they were a good candidate on the phone, they almost always wind up being a good candidate in person and vice versa.

So, what does a good phone voice do?

A good phone voice creates the impression of a confident, positive, capable human being on the other end of the line. It makes you want to say yes to that person, to help them, to give them whatever they are asking for. It creates a feeling of connection, even of intimacy. It makes you think, “Wow, this person sounds great!  I’d like to meet her.”
So how can I get me one of those?

Here are some tricks anyone can do to create an instant connection on the phone.

1. Stand up straight when you speak on the phone. Your voice sounds better and is more powerful when you are standing up straight and carrying yourself properly.

2. If you have been caught off guard by the call because you weren’t expecting it, don’t be afraid to ask to reschedule. It’s better to have a conversation when you are composed and prepared than have your voice betray you.
3. Smile. Smiling will soften your tone and communicate friendliness over the telephone.
4. Wait for the other person to finish speaking before launching into what you have to say. This is true for any conversation, but phone manners tend to be particularly bad for interrupters.
5. If you don’t understand what the person is saying, ask them to repeat it. I have often hung up only to realize that because of a bad connection, I had lost a relevant piece of information.
6. When you are on the phone, you are on the phone. We often think phone time is fair game to respond to emails, cook dinner or plan our next holiday. This may work with your sister or your best friend but it’s not going to work for your career.
7. Make sure you are in a quiet place to conduct your phone call. Don’t assume that people won’t know you are shopping for shoes; any ambient sounds will be picked up by the person on the other end of the line.
8. Be aware of the other person’s voice. If they speak very slowly and quietly, or loud and fast, try to emulate your voice to match theirs. This is because we respond well to people who are similar to us, whether it’s physical appearance or tone of voice. Increase your chances of getting ahead by being flexible with your voice.
9. Only have one conversation at a time. My husband loves to talk to me as soon as I get on the phone and is always surprised when I start waving my hand at him as if I were shooing away a rhinoceros.
10. Focus on what the other person is saying. It’s so easy to get distracted when we are on the phone, but you need to pay the person on the other end the same respect you would if s/he was sitting across from you.

These tips will establish you as a strong, confident presence on the phone and not just another call to be avoided.

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