Four Tips to Master the Telephone

Scared to pick up the phone to call a casting director, agent or producer? Dallas Travers has some great tips to get rid of those jitters!

The telephone is one of the most powerful marketing resources you have at your disposal.  Think about Jeremy Piven’s character, Ari Gold on HBO’s Entrourage.  As Hollywood’s most powerful agent, Gold lives and breathes by the telephone.  He understands that the phone is the quickest way to really make things happen for his clients.

Regardless of what stage you are in your acting career, you must embrace the power of the telephone in your own marketing.  You don’t have to be an acerbic bulldog like Ari Gold, but you can step out of your comfort zone and reach out on the phone.

Whether you’re calling producers, casting directors, agents, or even friends, the phone can sometimes be an intimidating monster.  Let’s admit it, scary phone calls are never easy, but they are necessary if you want to elevate your career.  So, now I’d like to offer up four quick tips for conquering the telephone.

Be Clear

It’s essential that you know precisely WHY you are calling before you pick up the phone.  You must convey your request in a clear way.  Doing so allows whomever you’re calling to more easily help you because now they’ll actually know what the heck you really want.

Be sure to ask the real question.  The real question cuts right to the chase.  It may feel a little bold, but it’ll more than likely get you the answers you’re seeking.  The real question may be: “Can we set up a meeting?”  “Would you like to represent me?” or “How can I cultivate a relationship with you?”

If you’re calling to set up a meeting with a producer, ask for it.  You might say something like this:

Hi, I’m Joe smith.  I’m an actor committed to expanding my feature film career.  I’m calling to set up a 10 minute meeting with (insert producer’s name) to find out what you’re currently working on and how we might collaborate.

If you’re calling a
casting office, simply request an audition.  You may say something like this:

Hi, this is Jane Johnson.  I think I’m perfect for the role of (insert role here).  What can I do to get an audition?

Be Confident

Don’t apologize.  Whatever you do, don’t start your call with, “Sorry to bother you, but…” As terrified as you may feel on the phone, rest assured, you are not bothering anyone by calling.  In fact, what you’re doing is providing them with the unique opportunity to meet you or work with you.  By the way, last time I checked, you’re pretty talented and easy to work with.

Phone fear often exists because the results you get are immediate.  When you make a call, you’re forced to accept whatever answer appears on the other end of the line.  So, expect some people to say no and be cool with that.

Jessica, an actress and singer, challenged herself to make a scary phone call every day for a month.  She called casting directors and producers to request auditions or meetings.  By the end of 30 calls, Jessica landed three auditions and two producer meetings.  She was thrilled.  Sure, Jessica generated five fantastic opportunities through phone calls.  But she also dealt with twenty-five no’s in the process.  Part of getting a yes involves accepting some no’s along the way.

Before you make a phone call, give yourself a pep talk.  Make a list of all the benefits you bring to the table.  Take a deep breath and dial.

Be Concise

It’s easy to over explain or provide too much information when your adrenaline is pumping.  Write a short script or identify the bullet points you want to address on the call.  This script will help you convey your request in a simple way and allow the recipient of your request to easily understand how they can help you.

Remember, a confused mind says no.  Beware of information overload.  You do not have to provide details about your background, your motivation to call, or your skill set.  Just quickly and simply ask for what you want and leave it at that.

Consider this easy phone call formula.

1. Who are you?

2.  Who are you calling?

3.  What do you want?

“This is Jane Jones calling for Susan Smith.  I’m an actor & I’d like to schedule a meeting to discuss representation.”

When All Else Fails… Be Oprah!

When I’m faced with a scary phone call that really makes me nervous, I put on my Oprah persona.  In my mind, Oprah Winfrey is the perfect caller.  She’s professional, confident, and articulate.  Who wouldn’t want to receive a call from the mighty O?

Who is your ideal phone caller?  Is it Katie Couric, George Clooney, Donald Trump, or even President Obama?  If you could hire anyone in the world to make calls on your behalf, who would it be?

With that person in mind, step into their shoes.   Adopt their phone prowess while you develop your own confidence with the telephone.  Now, you’ve infused some playful energy into what might otherwise be a terrifying experience.

In my humble professional opinion, phone calls are the most effective marketing tool at your disposal.  You’re paying for the minutes, so use ‘em wisely.

Here’s to many fruitful phone calls!

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