Friday, June 29, 2007

It's Official...You Can Hear A Smile

Many a customer service consultant (especially those who specialize in call centers) will tell you that people can actually detect or “hear” a smile over the phone. Really? Does that mean you can smell colors?

Just for grins, I decided to discover if a smile is truly audible over the phone. So at my recent Virtual Presentations seminar at a big PR firm in Chicago, I put this theory to the test.

I asked the participants to (gasp!) come to the meeting with their cell phone. Once there, I instructed each person to leave himself/herself a 60-second update about in important project on their own business voicemail.

Incidentally, everyone in the room left their voicemails while sitting down and some were even hunched over mumbling into their phones.

Then, I asked them to leave the same 60-second voicemail on the same topic only this time they had to stand up, smile, face the person standing next to them and act like they were talking to the person in the room.

During the second round I noticed there was more energy in the room and I even heard a few chuckles. (Chuckles always make a trainer feel good, whether it’s the jelly candy or actual laughter. We’re not picky.)

The last step of the exercise was for everybody to listen to their own messages. As people listened to their first message I saw wincing, cringing and head shaking. When they listened to their second message, they seemed to be more pleased.

At long last, I asked them to describe each message to me in a word or two and I wrote them on a flip chart. Here’s what they said about their first message.

Message #1 (seated, not smiling):
- Boring
- Muffled
- Lethargic
- Rushed
- Flat
- Incoherent
- Chuck full of “ums”

Message #2 (standing, smiling, talking to a person in the room):
- More enthusiastic
- More confident
- Friendlier
- Upbeat
- More conversational
- Focused
- Engaging

How ‘bout that? The participants couldn’t believe their ears. They were shocked at how lethargic and uninterested they sounded on voicemail. But once they stood up, added the smile and acted like they were talking to the person next to them, everything changed.

Time to Hit Your Stride

Your Turn #1:
How do you come across on a conference call? Energetic? Upbeat? Or, tired and uninterested?

Your Turn #2:
Take the Voicemail Test. Leave a one minute voicemail for yourself the way you normally talk. Then leave the same message standing up, smiling and speaking as if there were a person in front of you. Now listen to each message. Which voicemail portrays you the best?

Happy Speaking,

Steve Hughes Speaker - Trainer - Pirate

1 comment:

Guarentini said...

great! I always thought it to be true and it makes sense - great work!