Mastering the Art of Talking on the Phone (Yes! It matters.)
I am sitting on the trading floor a few months after graduating. My team is off the desk in a conference room and myself and the next most junior person are left to answer any incoming calls, Bloomberg chats, etc.
Some news hits the wires and all of a sudden the phones and chats start lighting up. OMG. My palms break into a sweat on par with watching the last 15 minutes of “Free Solo”. A client calls and my colleague picks up. Phew, dodged that one. Then another phone rings and I’m up to bat. I pick up the line and manage to squeak out “BNP Paribas, this is Amanda”, running out of air by the end of that sentence. My voice betraying the calm, cool, collected version of myself I had intended to show to this client.
Why do I share this story? Because that squeaky, fried voice took a lot of time and effort to change, but I believe it was one of the best things I did for my career.
Hear me out. The majority of the work I was doing and client interactions were over the phone. I hadn’t met any of these clients yet, and likely wouldn’t be traveling around the country for months/years. The only thing these people had to inform their impression of me was my VOICE. I am talking tone/pitch/robustness in addition to some well-researched communication habits such as upspeak and vocal fry. I felt that Hamilton prepared me to be an intelligent thinker, a hard worker, etc. However, if my voice portrayed something else, I felt the content of my interactions would be quickly ignored.
Hear me out, again. Almost all first-round interviews take place over the phone. Having done college recruiting while at BNP (phone interviews and in person), I believe this is an easy way to set yourself apart from other candidates.
So what had I done at Hamilton and while at BNP? I took Susan Mason’s public speaking course at Hamilton my senior year which was an extremely helpful foundation to have. While at BNP I used all my mandatory HR trainings on communication skills, joined a Toastmasters public speaking group, and tried to integrate these skills into my daily phone calls with clients and internal meetings.
I have to give credit where credit is due, I would not have taken on this challenge on my own. My boss and mentor at BNP was very committed to making sure I got this figured out. I am in no way a standout in this department, and still have to regularly remind myself to work on this, but I do think it is well worth the time and effort.
Amanda Thorman is a Class of 2013 graduate. While at Hamilton, she was a member of Varsity Squash and was the treasurer for a radio show. She graduated with a major in psychology yet found herself in a career in finance. She currently works as a Wealth Planning Associate for UBS in Seattle, Washington. She has a wealth of expertise in investment and trade, having spent 5 years working on the trading floors of Morgan and Stanley.