In today’s computer-orientated business world, the telephone is still an important tool for connecting with your customers. There are few things more annoying than being handed a half crumpled piece of paper with semi-legible scrawl on it and being told that it’s a message from someone. You should not have to spend precious time trying to dicipher a message, or trying to track down the writer to clarify something.
Time is money. Here are some tips on how to take a proper, accurate telephone message.
- Write it down on a piece of paper, preferably a phone-message pad. Don’t scribble it at the back of an envelope or a bill. Don’t write one message at the edge of another one.
- Make sure there is lots of space on the message pad. If you try and jam too many messages on the same sheet, chances are you will not be able to decipher the message later.
- Make sure you have a working pen and a back up. If the pen stops working in the middle of the call, you shouldn’t be putting the caller on hold to go searching for a replacement.
- To avoid confusion, include important details, such as: the caller’s name, company and telephone number, with area code. A message with the name of the caller and the company name, will help you understand it better. Needless to say, a telephone number comes in handy when you need get back to the caller.
- The date and time of the call is essential. This will help you recall the conversation. The date and time will be important if need to support a process for certification or legal reasons.
- When writing the information, make sure to ask for correct spellings. This is particularly important in ensuring you have the correct name of the caller or company.
- Note whether the message is urgent. This way, the message recipient will know how quickly to respond.
- Before you hang up, read the message details back to the caller, to make certain that they are correct.
- Initial the bottom of the message. This way, if clarification is required, you can be contacted directly.
- Once you’ve taken the message, make sure to put it some place it is sure to be found by the recipient. Have a common location for the pick up of message or place it in a location where it will be seen.
This is one of the more popular posts at Ian’s Messy Desk. I’m reposting with some update information.
How much stuff do you have sitting on your desk or in your work area? A while back, Coopers & Lybrand (nowPrice Waterhouse Coopers) released data from a poll on personal organization. One statistic found that, “The average desk worker has 36 hours worth of work on their desk and wastes up to 3 hours a week just “looking” for STUFF!” Finding stuff on my messy desk bears out that statistic. Being disorganized is responsible for a lot of wasted time.
While there is a challenge in the initial cleaning of the messy desk, the regular maintenance often poses the bigger challenge. Here are some tips to help keep the desk clean:
- Sort your mail and toss junk as it arrives. Even with an in-basket, you need to process your mail dailyto avoid accumulating a stack of paper. Sort where you have places to put each category of mail: 1) garbage, 2) recycling, 3) bills, 4) etc.
- Get rid of sticky notes and scraps of paper. Round them all up and transfer their information tosomething a little more permanent, efficient, and user-friendly. Get a single notebook and use it torecord notes, phone numbers, web addresses, ideas, to-dos, etc.
- Create a list or binder of regularly referenced material, such as phone numbers, and keep it accessible in a desk drawer.
- Schedule filing time at least once per week. To be more productive, allocate 15 minutes each week. Initially it may take you longer to catch up if you have a large pile, but 15 minutes is manageable. We all can find this much time in our schedules.
- Add dated or calendar items to a tickler file system or a diary as soon as they arrive. anything you need reminded of on some future date goes into your tickler file. Every morning, pull out the folder for the day and place the contents into your inbox. Then it is right at hand when you need it.
- When you stop working on something, put it away until the next time you need it. Don’t leave half-completed projects sitting on your desktop.
- Keep nothing on your desk unless you absolutely need them. If you aren’t joining sheets of paper with tape, move the dispenser off the desk. If you want personal photos in the office, have only one on thedesk or better yet, hang them on the wall.
- Keep a reading folder for material you need to read. Put non–urgent “to read” items in file folder; use multiple folders if you have different to-read categories. As you receive new items, place them in the front of the folder. If the folder gets too full, toss the old stuff without looking at it. That way you always have current stuff that might go back a month or two. Schedule regular reading time to clear the material.
- Create a “waiting for” or pending file to hold items dependent on outside action. This is not the same as a tickler file. This is for actions waiting on an external response. I.e., you’re waiting on quotes before you can go ahead a get the office repaintied.
- Create a weekly appointment to clean your desk and this includes dusting or polishing. You might be less inclined to mess up a shiny desk.
It doesn’t take much “neglect” for your workspace to fill up with things that eat at your productivity. A few simple and regular good habits can free up a bunch of extra time for getting things done.
It’s easy to compound our innate fear of public speaking by delivering a really bad presentation. There’s nothing worse than fighting the nervous butterflies in your stomach and seeing the glazed-eyes look of your audience as you slowly bore them to tears.
Neil Patel has posted 10 Tips for a Killer Presentation. My three favourites:
- Don’t abuse your visuals – Usually your visuals are posters, charts, or even a PowerPoint presentation. Whatever your visuals may be, keep them simple and don’t put too many words on them. The audience isn’t there to read your slides, they are there to listen to you present.
- Make them laugh – Although you want to educate your audience, you need to make them laugh as well. I learned this from Guy Kawasaki and if you ever hear any of his speeches you’ll understand why. In essence, it keeps the audience alert and they’ll learn more from you than someone who just educates.
- Talk to your audience, not at them – People hate it when they get talked at, so don’t do it. You need to interact with your audience and create a conversation. An easy way to do this is to ask them questions as well as letting them ask you questions.
I have one more tip that I’ve had to learn the hard way: Tell stories – People don’t want to sit through a dry recitation of facts, statistics, policy, etc. They want to hear how what you have to say plays out in real life. Learn to tell stories.
Toastmasters International has put together a list of ten tips that will help improve your public speaking skills.
- Know your material. Pick a topic you are interested in. Know more about it than you include in your speech.
- Use personal stories and conversational language – that way you won’t easily forget what to say.
- Practice. Practice. Practice! Rehearse out loud with all equipment you plan on using. Revise as necessary.
- Know the room. Arrive early, walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.
- Know the audience. Greet some of the audience members as they arrive. It’s easier to speak to a group of friends than to strangers.
- Relax. Ease tension by doing exercises. Transform nervous energy into enthusiasm.
- Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear and confident. Visualize the audience clapping – it will boost your confidence.
- Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative and entertaining. They don’t want you to fail.
- Don’t apologize for any nervousness or problem – the audience probably never noticed it.
- Concentrate on the message – not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties and concentrate on your message and your audience.