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How can I overcome my fear of picking up the phone and actually speaking to someone (rather than hiding behind my various screens)?


This question is one I hear a lot. The stakes are raised when you speak on the phone or record a message. Your voice is intimate in a way that emails, text or WhatsApp are not. Your voice reveals you. It’s why podcasting and radio is so powerful – we love the human connection when everything else is transacted via various screens.

If you dread picking up the phone the answer is to understand that the problem can be overcome. You have to get yourself into the right gear for a call. You have to take control. And your body has most of the answers, so you have to connect to it fully – yes even on the phone –  something we forget as we tilt our head to cradle a mobile phone, or huddle forward into the spider-phone.

I had the pleasure of exploring this vocal intimacy for two days Mid August when I was asked to record the audible edition of Gravitas.  The fear of a daunting phone call is nothing compared to two full days in a studio recording a book. I was fairly nervous about the prospect. But in the end it was great fun (thanks Olivia) I’m pleased with the result – you can listen to a sample here.

In a sound booth with nothing but a mic and a book in front of me (and a blanket – thank you Audible!) I was really aware of the absolute essentials when it comes to making the most of your delivery.  I noticed that I drew really heavily on a few core strategies which will work for you whether you have a daunting teleconference, or have been invited to do a podcast.

Here are three great tools from voice over that you can use any time you have to speak when they can’t see you.

Hold your Own: Get yourself physically centred. Don’t assume that just because they can’t see you, your body doesn’t matter. We hear your posture in your voice, because your breathing is affected by how you hold yourself, and your voice is powered by your breath. If you can, stand. If you can’t, sit up. Sit up in a solid, well balanced way, feel your core supporting you (rather than collapsing into your back). Straight spine, low centred breathing. Relax your shoulders. They will hear more energy that way.

Speak Up: Just because the phone or mic is by your head, don’t de-power your voice. You want to have a sense of gently filling the room, speaking from your core. You want your voice to fill the room in a warm, easy way. It’s the energy you’d have in a good chat with old friends.

Be Conversational: We hear a smile in the voice (research shows we hear at least 6 smiles in fact) and the warmth it creates really works on the phone or when the voice is being recorded. Find the conversational ease of talking to a dear friend. Even visualise them smiling as you talk. And just as you’d naturally gesture when chatting, use subtle conversational gesture. A hand that marks out key words as you chat. A head set that allows you to move and gesture freely.  Why? Because Gesture orchestrates vocal intonation: The big voice over secret is that when no one can see you, you can really go for the gesture – that’s why I’m glad there was no camera on me when I was recording the audiobook!

Have fun bringing your calls to life! It’s easier than you realise….