How many days do you usually push off phone calls you’re nervous to make?
“Me, Avraham? I’m super confident and perfectly efficient. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Ok, then. Not you. But for everybody else - because it’s pretty likely they all dread phone calls every so often - I’d like to share some practical tips to help.
Fundraising phone calls can be nerve-wracking. But avoiding the phone and opting for an email or text instead could cost you donations.
So, next time you’re vacillating between emailing a donor and (gulp) calling him, use this list of 14 tips to reduce your nerves - and do a better job on the call.
1. First, a Pep Talk
Give yourself a little motivational speech before you start. Remind yourself why you’re doing this. What’s your mission? Who’s depending on you? What are you out to accomplish for Klal Yisrael.
2. Warm Up
If you’re making multiple calls, start with the easiest ones. You’ll boost your confidence and get into the right mode before attacking the harder calls.
3. What’s the Worst That Can Happen?
You’re nervous - why? What’s the worst-case outcome? They won’t donate? They’ll yell at you? Sure, that wouldn’t be pleasant, but you’re strong, you can handle it.
4. It’s all Hishtadlus Anyway
Remind yourself: the only thing you can do is try. Which is what you’re already doing. Success is totally in Hashem’s control.
5. You’re Giving, Remember?
Do a little perspective shift, inspired by Rav Dessler, and remember that you’re not here to take. You’re giving the donor an incredible opportunity.
6. Scrap the Script. Bullets are Better.
Scripts can make you feel less nervous. But they also rob your speech of emotion and warmth. Don’t read off a paper. Instead, prepare bullet points encompassing what you want to say. This way, you can be prepared and sound real.
7. Practice, practice, practice.
At least, practice your opening a few times. First impressions count, and practice really does make (pretty close to) perfect.
8. Put a Face to It.
Pull up a picture of your donor to look at during the call. If you already have one, great. Otherwise, you can probably find one on Google.
Why look at their picture? When you do, you release oxytocin, the connection hormone. And when you interact with someone while your oxytocin levels are elevated - you cause them to release oxytocin, and feel more connected with you!
9. Relax That Body Language
Roll your shoulders. Take a deep breath and release your muscles. Smile. Avoid holding your breath as you wait for your donor to pick up. When you do, you tense up your vocal cords, giving an anxious tone to your “hello.”
10. Stand Up
Dynamic speakers stand while they speak, right? Give yourself the chance to sound more dynamic and engaging by getting out of your seat for the call.
11. Manufacture some Confidence
Pretending to be confident makes you feel more confident. Another great way to access confidence: think about something you feel very confident doing. Picture yourself doing that activity.
How do you feel? What’s your body doing? Hold onto that mental state as you move into the phone call.
12. Pitch Perfect
When we’re nervous, we tend to speak in a higher tone of voice. Preempt this by consciously staying toward the lower end of your natural tonal range. It helps to take a deep breath in and choose your tone as you breathe out.
13. Pile on the Passion
You’re passionate about what you do, right? You’re passionate about the cause you’re raising money for. Stir up some of that passion (see Tip 1 for help) and make sure the emotion comes through in your voice and words as you speak.
14. Catch Those Volume-Drops
It’s common to lower your voice just when you’re getting to the words that make you the most nervous (“Can we meet?” “We’re looking to raise $XXXXX.” “Could you make that intro?”). Donors pick up on this drop subconsciously, and it affects how they react. So be careful to keep your volume even throughout the call.
Ready to take these ideas for a test drive on your next phone call? Print out this list and keep it next to you when you make your calls.