Controlling Your Phone Calls

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Do you spend too much time on the phone? To manage your time more efficiently and to keep your calls short and professional, consider these tips: 

  1. Place your calls in priority order by screening them through your voice messaging system. 
    This will permit you to give prompt attention to those that are the most important. 
  2. Outline your call. 
    Before you pick up the phone, make an outline of what you want to say. Begin your conversation by describing the issue or theme that you plan to explore. For instance, "I'm calling to talk with you about . . ." Once the boundaries have been conveyed, stick with the plan that you have described. 
  3. Review and share the hard copy. 
    If you need to discuss a document, make sure the person you call has an advance copy to review. And, be sure to familiarize yourself with the content before you place the call. 
  4. Announce your time limit in advance. 
    For example, "I have only five minutes to review this issue with you." Then stick to the limit that you have established. 
  5. Don't allow small talk to overwhelm the discussion. 
    While remaining diplomatic, thoughtfully redirect the focus of the conversation back to your agenda as each opportunity presents itself. 
  6. Stand up during the course of the conversation. 
    This can help you to think more clearly and it will also help you to maintain a more effective focus while you talk on the phone. 
  7. Use questions to stay on track. 
    Ask specific and pertinent questions to bring digressive speakers back to the subject. 
  8. Don't linger. 
    Once the purpose of the phone call has been accomplished, briefly summarize the conclusions or agreements reached and then end the call promptly. 
  9. When appropriate, delegate others to receive or return your more routine calls. But, make sure the person you delegate has the skills and information necessary to fill in for you.