by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
Do you view your phone meetings as “not as good” as your in-person meetings? If this is your belief, then that’s likely true. What is this belief costing you? Given our fast-paced world, phone or GoToMeeting are valuable tools you can use to keep more meetings, increase your efficiency, and expand your market.
How might your practice change if you believed you could accomplish just as much or even more on the phone? Create the in-person experience on the phone! Start by examining your behavior while you are on the phone with a client. Do you act the exact same way as if they were sitting right there with you? Likely not. Okay…now what if you did?
Here are some things that you can implement immediately to improve the phone experience:
1) Eliminate all distractions
Place your phone out of sight (upside down, in pocket, across the table, in a drawer, etc)
Do not open text messages. Do not send them. Ever. Period.
Close your email completely, including turning off email preview in Settings.
Shut all computer windows, opening them ONLY if you need to reference something.
2) Communicate the new way you are handling phone meetings with staff, colleagues, etc.
Announce the change to your staff. Explain to them what you are implementing and why it’s important.
Treat phone meetings the exact same way as in-person. Do not allow anyone to come in your office or interrupt you.
Inform colleagues in advance who like to “pop in” or “just grab something from your files” that, going forward, they need to wait until you are off the phone.
Place a sign on the door so that you will not be disturbed.
3) Manage the client
Set the stage for the meeting. Have staff communicate to the client that a full 60 minutes is being planned.
Keep to the scheduled time.
Schedule shorter meetings that are well focused if you and/or the client will be more productive.
4) Manage yourself
Sit how and where you would for any client meeting (at your desk, a conference table, etc).
Hold your body in a confident manner.
Try a power pose before and even during the meeting. Hold for a full 2-minutes (CEO sitting pose or Superman standing pose). Here’s a great TED talk about how power poses reduce stress and increase confidence.
Close your eyes and really concentrate.
Give your client your full, undivided attention. Really sit with them.
Take slow, deep breaths frequently.
Picture the person who you are on the phone with.
Do not rustle paper. Create a pleasant and comfortable environment by eliminating all of the noise you can. Mute your line if there is noise you cannot avoid.
5) Leverage technology
Include a photo of yourself and/or your team in your email signature.
Email a meeting agenda in advance.
Do not call from somewhere noisy (your car, a windy sidewalk, etc).
Applying the same respect and boundaries to the phone environment as you would in person is powerful and rewarding. Practice and watch the magic unfold.