Four Tips for a Successful Professional Phone Call

Anybody who’s learning English knows how helpful body language and facial expressions are to fully understand a conversation. This is why so many language learners feel anxious when the phone rings, and they have to speak in English!

Let’s be honest, making a phone call can be stressful in any language, but there are simple steps you can take to have successful, clear phone conversations.

1. Prepare

If you have advanced notice, be sure to prepare for your phone call! Write down your primary objectives and specific vocabulary words that you’re worried you might forget.

Do not write a detailed script. If you’re reading your notes word for word during the call, it will be distracting for you, and you’ll sound unnatural to the other speaker.

No matter what, it’s a great idea to review key phone call phrases. You’ll notice that modal verbs like would and could are often used to keep the tone of a conversation polite and professional!

Key Phone Call Phrases

Making the Call

-        Hello, this is [your name] from [company name].

-        Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon! May I please speak to [name]?

-        I’d like to speak to [name], please.

-        Hello! Could you please transfer me to [name or department]?

Receiving the Call

-        Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon. [Company name], [your name] speaking, how may I help you?

-        Hello, this is [your name]. *Remember, never start a phone call with “Hi, I am (your name).”

Stating your Intent

-        I’m calling to discuss…

-        I’m calling to ask about…

-        I’d like to talk about…

-        Do you have a moment to discuss/talk about…?

Leaving a Message

-        I’d like to leave a message for [Name]. Please tell him/her/[name] that...

-        Could you please take a message? Please tell him/her/[name] that...

Taking a Message

-        I’m sorry he/she/[name] isn’t available today. Can I take a message?

-        I’ll let he/she/[name] know that you called, and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Making Small Talk

-        How are you doing?

-        How have you been?

-        How have your projects been going?

Ending the Call

-        Thanks for calling, [Name]! Have a great day.

-        Thank you so much for your time.

2. Slow Down

Oftentimes, English language learners believe that fast English is the best English. This is not necessarily true!

When you speak too quickly, you are very likely to make grammatical errors, mispronounce words, and confuse the person you’re talking to. Take a deep breath, and slow down your speech. If you’re in the middle of a conversation, and you feel completely lost, don’t be afraid to briefly pause the conversation.

Quick and easy phrases to pause a conversation:

-        Wait one moment while I write this down.

-        Could you please hold for a moment?

-        I’m going to ask my colleague about that. One moment, please.

-        I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but could I call you back in a few minutes?

3. Ask for Clarification

During a professional phone call, it’s very important that both parties understand the information communicated. If you don’t understand something, do not pretend that you do! When in doubt, always, always ask for clarification.

Clarification Questions and Phrases:

-        Could you please repeat that? I want to be sure I have the correct information.

-        I’m sorry, would you mind saying that one more time?

-        I didn’t quite catch that, could you please repeat what you said?

-        Do you have any questions about what I’ve said so far?

-        A great strategy is to repeat or summarize what the other speaker says. You might feel silly repeating their words, but it’s an excellent way to confirm that you understand. For example:

-        Person A: We’ll complete the payment by next Monday at 10 AM.

-        Person B: Excellent! Our accounting department will expect the payment at 10 on Monday morning. OR Let me see if I got that right. The payment will arrive by next Monday at 10 AM?

4. Follow Up

If you’re worried you didn’t understand the entirety of the phone call, send a follow-up email or make a follow-up phone call. It can be especially difficult to catch exact addresses, phone numbers, and other logistical details on the phone. Take notes during the call so that you know exactly which points you might need to follow-up on.

Follow-up Phrases

-        I’ll be sure to send you a follow-up email to confirm the details we discussed.

-        I have a few follow-up questions that I’ll send via e mail. OR I have a few follow-up questions. Can we schedule another time to talk?

-        Could you please send me an email confirming….?


Written by Mariah Wika