Lesson 8 - On the phone

1.1.2022, , Izvor: Verlag Dashöfer

Lesson 8 – On the phone


If you do not have much experience of making business phone calls in English, it can be quite stressful, especially if you are calling to a prospective client for a first time, or if he/she speaks better English than you.

Most business people, unless they feel really confident, prepare for an important phone call in foreign language. For example, they plan it or make notes in advance. Or they might take notes during the phone call to remember what was said.

Although it is quick and convenient to phone someone to ask a question, or give some orders, there is nothing in writing to help you to remember everything.

In case you agree upon something important on the phone, it is good to confirm agreement via e-mail or fax, as it is easy to be misunderstood when talking on the phone. To prevent these misunderstanding and to be more confident in English when on the phone, let‘s have a look at following lesson.

1.1. Objectives of the Lesson

  • - to practice usage of appropriate language in various situations when talking on the phone
  • - to learn new vocabulary connected with making a phone call, getting through, asking to speak to someone, making and changing arrangements, closing conversation, etc.
  • - Special attention is paid to telephone techniques, leaving and taking message and voicemail
  • - Significant part of this lecture is devoted to cell phone etiquette, what to do, and what to avoid
  • - to foster and deepen the knowledge of using articles
  • - to foster new and already known vocabulary and phrases


2.1. Business Calls

Making a Phone Call –Getting Through, Asking to Speak to Someone

When making a business phone call, the scenario is usually the same.

At first, you pick up the phone, hear the dialing tone and dial the number on the keypad. You can call directly to the person if you know his/her direct line number, otherwise you can dial the number of company‘s switchboard.

  • - It may happen that the person is already talking to somebody else and you will hear engaged tone (BrE), or busy tone (AmE). You hang up and try again later.
  • - Or the operator answers and you ask for an extension of the person you want to speak to.

Exercise 1: A few common expressions are enough for most telephone conversations. Practice these expressions by completing following dialogue using the words listed here:

On speak to back message bad put number call ring 
secretary through office  speak  speaking can hello  
rang  hold  moment through     

Switchboard: Good Morning, Conglomerate Group; can I help you?

Ann Kew (AK): Good Morning, could I ________ ________ Mr. Lee?

Switchboard: Putting you __________.

Secretary (S): Hello, Mr. Lee‘s _______. ________ I help you?

(AK):________, can you hear me? It‘s a ________ line. Could you ________ up, please?

(S): Is that better? Who‘s ______, please?

(AK): Ann Kew from Parc Inc.

(S): Oh, hello. How nice to hear from you again. We haven‘t seen you for ages. How are you?

(AK): Fine, thanks. Could you ________ me ________ to Mr. Lee, please?

(S): _______ the line a moment. I‘ll see if he is in. I‘m sorry, I‘m afraid he‘s not in the ________at the _________. Could you give me your _________, and I‘ll ask him to _______ you________?

(AK): I‘m ______ 526 5693

(S): Would you like to leave any ________ for him?

(AK): No thanks. Just tell him I _________.

(S): Certainly. Nice to hear from you again.

(AK): I‘ll expect him to _________ me this afternoon, then. Thank you very much.

(S): You‘re welcome. Goodbye.

(AK): Goodbye.


If you do not understand or hear the other person, say e.g. I‘m sorry? I‘m sorry I don‘t understand, could you please repeat…

It‘s not polite to say: Please repeat!


  1. 2.1. Telephone techniques
  1. Leaving and Taking Message

Read the following hints on telephone techniques from a training officer.

  1. Give your name slowly and clearly. Identify yourself and your position in the company. After that say right away what you are calling about. Be brief and exact.
  2. In case there is a bad line, say that you will call back at once. Then ring back and start the call again. Speak clearly, be friendly and SMILE! The
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