Monthly Archives: September 2014

Telephone Guidelines

If you are calling another person:

  • Have a plan in your head before you call. You don’t want to forget an important question.
  • Sound happy. The other person can’t see your face, so the only way they know that you are happy is through your tone. Make yourself fun to talk to and they’ll respond positively.
  • Introduce yourself when they answer. “Hi, this is Dave Henderson from Big Bank, I was hoping to speak with Bob Plunkett about some billing details.” This lets the person who answers the phone send your call to the best person without having to ask you many questions.
  • End the call yourself. You, the caller, have the responsibility of ending the call.


If you are answering the call:

  • Start by saying your name and your company’s name.This will let people know who they are speaking to, and will help to give a positive first impression.
  • Answer questions fully. Instead of saying “No, we don’t have that,” which sounds a bit rude, add helpful details that will let the caller choose their next action. Something like “I’m sorry, but we don’t have any right now. We are expecting some next week,though. Would you like me to put you on a waiting list?”
  • Be careful when taking messages. Repeat information back to the caller to check that you understand correctly – for example, “five” and “nine” can often sound the same – and write clearly so that people can read the message you take.
  • If you are transferring a call, tell the caller why you are doing it. Tell them who you are transferring them to, just in case they accidentally get disconnected. That way they can call back and ask for a specific person.


How long?

In teaching writing,  I often am asked about the typical lengths of written pieces. “How long should my sentences be?” “How many words can I put in a presentation?” Here are a few of the most common details for easy reference.

Generally, people speak at a speed of about 200 words per minute. Most native speakers will read at a speed of about 500 words per minute. Most ESL students will read at the same speed they speak.

One page of text, single-spaced, in a 12-point font, is about 500 words. One page, written by hand, will be between 200 or 300 words.

Most paragraphs have between 50 and 200 words in them. Most paragraphs have less than nine lines.

A paragraph contains only one idea, but several pieces of supporting detail.

Most sentences will be short or medium-length. Long sentences are less common.