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Telephone Skills


 I've been asked to deliver a telephone skills programme without any telephones or alternative equipment - does anyone have creative ideas and/or exercises for a meaningful half-day course? Thanks.

4 Responses

  1. back to back

    I’ve attended two such classes in the past. Or is that one? One had alternative equipment: one had nothing. And they were in the days before mobile phones.

    Class 1: they had us sitting back to back in front of the class (class size about 10 so not too intimidating). One of us would be selling something (for example a white elephant) and the other would be answering the call (for example Mrs Smythe at the Manor House). The class would then see both sides of the call and critique it (both in terms of sales techniques and general phone use). Then the two would swap. Then another pair would come up… until we had all done a turn.

    Class 2: very similar but there was a simple headset and loudspeaker arrangement between two rooms so that the "caller" went outside and the "receiver" (the tutor) was in the room with everyone else listening. This was less awkward for the caller, of course.

    If you’ve got someone with a calling plan that has unlimited minutes why not use a mobile phone and put one of them on speaker phone mode? Then you’ve not got any restriction on the telephones or alternative equipment.

    If you’ve got to do it without any kit at all for some other reason, doing back-to-back discussions ought to help. Maybe have groups of four in syndicate rooms two discussing, two observing and giving feedback, swap four times (so each gets a chance to "make the call") then come back and discuss observations. (Smaller groups to reduce the embarassment of performing in front of a full classroom). Then go and repeat something similar after that having gained "lessons learned" so that they can practice with their new knowledge.

  2. Use tapes


    for this type of training I often make a recording of a mock call that the group will be able to relate to. Get a friend to play the part of the customer and then record a conversation with them where the call-taker does everything wrong. Make it exaggerated for dramatic effect and add some humour. Then get the group to analyse the call and role play it through in the ‘correct’ way, using the skills you have taught them in the session.

    If you want to record the role plays you can buy a tape machine from Maplin for about £30 and a telephone recording socket (also from Maplin) for £12 that you attach to the tape recorder. This enables you to record a call and play it back. You will need to use an office with 2 separate phones and set up the recorder on one of them.

    If you only have half a day you may not get time for recording and play back anyway and at least with a pre-recorded tape they will have the benefit of assessing voice tone, pace, words etc which makes it all a bit more real.

    Feel free to contact me if you would like any further information



  3. bananas

    bananas instead of phones might be fun and memorable… at least it will help relax your group!! 

    just a thought…


    two bald blokes


  4. Job specific exercise

    Hi Polperro, 

    Ran a telephone behaviour sessions and found role play created around the delegates job roles rather fun and beneficial as they are able to relate to the situation.

    Are you running the sessions for delegates doing the same/similar type of jobs?

    With my example, I was running the sessions for the hotel industry. After going through the usual theories e.g. open, close questions, delegates were divided into groups of 3 i.e. Guest, hotel employee, and observer.

    To practice say the use of open closed questions for instance, The Guest is then asked to pick a card (cards prepared with hotel guest scenarios that they have to act) which contains information that the guest would only give if hotel employee asked the right questions.

    Guest roles ranges from Mr/Mrs Healthy who would like to become a health club member, Mr/Mrs Hissy Fit who complaints about a room service order, Mr/Mrs Can’t remember who has lost their property at the hotel, etc

    With the guest scenarios, a tent card is provided for the hotel employee explaining who they are (one of the hotel employee e.g. Duty Manager, Health Club Member Manager, Housekeeper) that particular instance.

    Exercise were done in 3 rounds. First round, hotel employee can only make use of closed questions, and second, open questions, and 3rd round open and close questions. 

    Observer were to observe the training point including the use of formal and informal words. 

    With no equipment, you will need to sit the hotel employee and guest facing back to back so to avoid any eye contact and other visual body languages to simulate a telephone call. The observer will be able to see both ends.

    It will however be nice if you can record one team member to use as an example and discussion at the end of the exercise.

    Delegates attended the sessions find it useful as it gets them to actually think their telephone techniques and be more aware of how they project themselves on the phone.

    Hope this helps a little.


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