Have you heard yourself lately?

– By Phoebe Yong

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As part of my job, I talk to a lot of people on the phone. Whether it’s conference calls, one on ones sales calls or media pitching, there is a lot of talking going on.

However this past week, I was struck by one resounding theme.  If only people could hear themselves talk – hear their own voice, words, and intonations. I think the impact on our end goal would be quite significant.

Record and Playback

For example, let’s say you’re on the phone with a reporter pitching a story, talking to a potential customer trying to set up an introductory meeting, or on a conference call leading a team of 10 from different regions. Have you ever tried recording the conversation and playing it back to yourself? Try it.

I called up a reporter last week for a pitch and after the call, I realized, if it was possible to play back my call, I would have been able to improve on it. I asked myself, at the start, was my voice confident? Did I word things effectively? Did I ramble? Did I sound sheepish? Considering the reporter did show up for the event I originally had pitched to them, I’d give myself an 8 out of 10.

Another thing that is just as important is how you end the call. When you listen to voicemails, they tend to begin with more energy but often finish off with a soft or awkward “bye”. The point is to be aware of your voice and intonations, all key components of effective communication.

In our media training classes, we encourage people record themselves and listen to it after. One way to do it is to record yourself reading a book out loud, or record yourself on a telephone call between colleagues or associates. This is a great way to assess your strengths and weaknesses. For example, does your voice flow naturally as you deliver the messages or do you sound monotone throughout? For every voicemail you leave behind, it might be beneficial to play it back to yourself first. If you do, you might realize what you need to improve on in order to get the desired response from the recipient.

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What’s your point.

I was on a call with a client once and they were helping me with a story idea. I realized at the end of the call that our client talked way too much and it left me unclear of the point they were trying to make. If I could have recorded that phone call and played it back to them, it would have been eye-opening and also a good reason to sign up for our media training. Our client talked for almost four minutes continuously on a fairly technical discussion. If they played back that conversation, they would have realized just how long they talked for without a break and without a main point.

It’s important to take the time to stop and listen. Silence is golden. In most cases, it’s beneficial to let someone else do the talking and listen. Listen intently, whether you’re listening to others or listening to your recorded self, you could learn a thing or two.

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