Basic Telephone Skills & Etiquette

Although you may prefer communicating through e-mails and sms, there are going to be times (in both your college & professional life) when you will be required to either make or receive a professional telephone call. 


Basic Telephone Skills:

Before making a telephone call –
  • Prepare: Think about the purpose of the call. What message do you want to convey or what information are you trying to elicit. You may even want to write down a few points or questions that you want to remember or ask.
  • Place:  Whether you’re calling your mom to say “hello” or your Academic Manager to set up an appointment, find a quiet place to make your call. Your communication will be far more effective if you and the receiver can hear each other clearly without any background distractions and noise.
  • Time:  If at all possible, do not make a call when you are in a rush or pressed for time. You will most likely forget either part or all of why you are phoning in the first place, you will not be focused on the information you are receiving and, you will come across as unprofessional and harassed.
  • Posture: Check your posture – how are you sitting or standing when making the telephone call? Your posture can effect your breathing, voice and tone.
  • DO NOT: chew, drink or smoke whilst making or receiving a telephone call


Greet and Identify –

Whether you are answering a call or making a call, always start off with a greeting and by identifying yourself:

For Example - when making a call:
Good afternoon, this is John speaking. Please may I speak to Naren.
For Example - when answering a call:
Hello, John speaking.

Allow the person on the other end a chance to respond before you launch into whatever it is that you are phoning about. Often times the receiver has not tuned into the conversation yet and may even ask you to repeat who you are.

For Example:
John: Good afternoon, this is John speaking.
Naren: Afternoon John, how may I help you?
John: I am phoning about setting up an appointment to meet with you...
Listen –

Any conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking:

  • Listen attentively.
  • Do not cut the other person off – wait for them to finish what they are saying.
  • Acknowledge comments every so often, this lets the other person know that you are still there and that you are listening.
  • Have a notepad and pen with you so you can write down any important points, names, telephone numbers you are given during the conversation.


Ending the call –

Always try to end a telephone call on a positive note. Thank the other person and if possible use their name.

For Example: 
You have been very helpful, thank you for taking the time to talk to me Naren. Good bye. 


Telephone Etiquette:

  • Using “please” and “thank you” not only shows that you have manners but are central to professional communication.
  • Always try to answer your phone within 3 rings – answering too quickly may catch the caller off-guard and allowing your phone to ring may annoy the caller.
  • If the caller has called you by mistake (wrong number) be courteous, inform them that they have the wrong number and end the call.
  • If you have called the wrong number, don’t be rude or just end the call. Say “I’m sorry, I must have the wrong number. Pardon the interruption.”
  • When calling someone do not start the conversation with “Who am I speaking to?” – always greet and introduce yourself first.
  • When leaving a message on voicemail be sure to speak slowly and clearly, especially if you are asking the person to call you back and you are leaving them your number.
  • Never end a call out of anger or frustration, it is the height of bad manners and will make phoning back and trying to re-start the conversation both difficult and awkward. If you are feeling angry or frustrated during a telephone call, politely inform the person that you are unable to continue the conversation right now and that you will call them back.


Nair, H. (2012). Basic Telephone Skills. Retrieved from: [Accessed on: 03 March 2016].

Roth, E. (2015). Tips on Effective Telephone Communication. Retrieved from:   [Accessed on: 03 March 2016].

Telephone Etiquette (n.d.) Retrieved from:  [Accessed on: 03 March 2016].