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Best Communication Practices for 2020’s Summer Hires: Best Practices for Phone Calls
by Mary Crane

In the past two months, professionals and nonprofessionals alike have increasingly turned to old-fashioned phone calls to connect with a human voice. According to AT&T, on March 22nd, wireless calls were up 44% vs. a typical Sunday; Wi-Fi calling was up 88%; and home/landline calls were up 74%. As a summer associate or intern, be prepared to receive far more phone calls than last year’s summer class experienced.

As soon as your workday begins, turn your phone on and keep it nearby. Answer incoming calls promptly—within three rings—or have incoming calls directed to your voicemail inbox.

When answering your phone, use a simple greeting in which you identify yourself, for example, “Good morning, this is Mary Crane.” Do this even if you think your name will appear on the other person’s phone. It’s a polite way to confirm that the caller has reached the desired call recipient.

Create a voicemail greeting that includes your name and assurances that you will return messages quickly, for example, “Hi, this is Mary. I’m sorry that I’ve missed your call. Please leave your name and number. I’ll return your call as quickly as possible.” If you know that you will be away from your phone for an extended period of time, manage the caller’s expectations by customizing your message: “Hi, this is Mary Crane. I am currently attending a training program that is scheduled to end at Noon. I will return your call immediately thereafter.”

Speak loudly and clearly enough so that others can accurately hear you. Use a tone that communicates you are a competent professional. Avoid using unnecessary fillers (uh, uhm, you know), which suggest hesitation. For the same reason, do not allow your voice to inflect up at the end of statements.

When others speak, allow them to complete their thoughts. Avoid interrupting. Ask questions to clarify and confirm your understanding.

When others say something that’s funny, feel free to laugh. It will help you to connect with others … and it’s so much more effective than texting “LOL.”