• Thank you for your time: Making your First Business Call in English

    by Muireann Prendergast

    The idea of making your first business call in English is not just unsettling, but terrifying for most students of English. However, with some work beforehand and plenty of practice, there are ways to prepare for it. Here are five of them.


    1. Prepare your introduction and possible introductions from the speaker


    It’s a good idea to prepare your opening sentences of introduction before you dial that number.

    For example:

    –       Good morning/Good afternoon.

    –       This is Pedro Rivas from Google Argentina speaking.

    –       May I speak to Mr. John Daly, please?

    If the person is expecting your call, it is helpful to say this.

    –       Mr. Daly is expecting my call.

    It is also useful to prepare yourself for what the speaker might say in return.

    If the person who has answered the telephone is the person you have asked to speak to he/she will say:

    –       This is she/he

    –       or

    –       Speaking

    However, if you are calling a big company or multinational it is likely that the person’s secretary or personal assistant, PA, might answer the telephone. He/she might say the following:

    –       Can you hold the line please while I transfer you to Mr. Daly’s office


    –       I’m sorry, Mr. Daly is not available at the moment, may I take a message?


    –       I’m sorry, Mr. Daly has stepped out of the office, can you call back later?

    Or, if the lines are busy, you might hear:

    – All of our operators are busy at the moment, can you please call back later.

    2. Practice saying your number and email and noting down numbers and emails in English


    For business calls, you can be sure you will have to leave your own telephone number or the number of your office at some point. For this reason, it is necessary that you be confident in saying your number in English. You should practice saying it beforehand:

    Remember, it sounds more fluent to say your number two-digits at a time.

    For example, if your number is 6554389887, you should read it sixty-five, fifty-four, thirty-eight, ninety-eight, eighty-seven.

    Also, practice saying your email address in English.

    @ = at

    .com = dot com

    Also, business calls will also require you to hear and note down telephone numbers. It is helpful to practice listening to numbers and writing them down from English-language television and radio news reports.

    Also, brush upon on your alphabet in English for noting down email addresses. If possible, ask native English speaking friends to call out their email addresses to you and practice writing them down.

    3. Leaving a message on an answering machine


    Leaving a message on an answering machine for work purposes in English can be a scary experience. However, once you have clear what you want to say you can practice it beforehand, writing down the information if it helps.

    Here is an example:

    Good morning/Good afternoon. This is Paul Garcia from Garcia & Associates architects in Madrid. I am calling to confirm my video conference call for 4 pm Tuesday afternoon next, May 16, with David Lloyd. Should Mr. Lloyd be unable to receive the call, I would appreciate it if he would call me on my direct line at 065 3453432 to reschedule it. Otherwise, I look forward to speaking with Mr. Lloyd on Tuesday. Until then, thank you and goodbye.

    4. Tips to help you understand


    If you feel overwhelmed and cannot understand the speaker, don’t worry. There are ways to get out of difficulty:

    If you can’t understand what the person is saying say:

    –       I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?


    If you think the person is speaking to fast:

    –       I’m sorry, would you mind speaking slower, please?


    If you can’t catch a place name or person mentioned:

    –       I’m sorry, could you repeat that please?


    If you can’t hear them properly

    –       I’m sorry there is interference on the line, can I call you from different phone?


    I’m sorry there is a bad connection can I call you back later?


    5. Finishing the call


    When it is time to finish the call you can say

    –       Alright then, I think that’s about it for now.


    –       I’m happy that we have covered all the bases.

    It’s also a good idea to thank the person for their time.

    –       I appreciate you taking the call and thank you for your time.


    Establish how you would like to follow up after the telephone call

    -I look forward to speaking with you again next week.


    -I will send you an email with the details we discussed attached.


    -I look forward to speaking to you personally next week.


    While you think about what you are going to say and how you want to say it let’s listen to the best known pop song in English about stressful telephone calls, Blondie’s Hanging On The Telephone:

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