By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
If you want to increase engagement and have more productive conversations with prospective students and parents, it’s important to not sound scripted and robotic.
I’ve been reminding admissions counselors about this lately as they prepare to make congratulatory phone calls to admitted students as well as financial aid calls to parents. The same thing applies to all of your virtual (or in person) events and visits.
“Don’t sound like you are reading from a script! It’s very helpful when the phone call feels more personal than to feel like you’re just another student on the list.”
Quotes like that from students continue to appear in survey after survey when we ask them to offer colleges advice on how to improve either their phone calls or their overall communication.
When you read from a script, it causes you to shift your focus away from the other person or people which then causes your delivery to lose that all-important personal touch.
Here are 8 tips that will help make your phone calls and presentations sound less scripted:
- Practice ahead of time. My daughter often asks me how I can get up and talk or give a keynote in front of hundreds of people at a conference and not be constantly looking down at my notes. The reason is simple. I’ve not only written down talking points ahead of time, but I’ve rehearsed things in my head and out loud – usually multiple times. You should do the same including playing out different scenarios of how you will respond to various questions and statements.
- Always make sure it’s a two-way conversation. Never talk at the other person, talk with them. You should lead the conversation but never dominate it. If you’re in person, consistently engage the student and/or parents through eye contact. And when you’re on the phone or in person, ask direct, intentional questions as a way to show you care about, and want to know, their opinion on different things.
- Be an active listener. Building on that last bullet point, be an active listener and focus on what the other person is saying. And be prepared with follow-up questions to get more context. Doing that allows you to better understand their needs which then allows you to respond with helpful information and feedback. Active listening can also create positive emotions that impact decision-making.
- Use more conversational, less formal language. Being more conversational makes you more relatable.
- Your pace matters. Slow down, pronounce things clearly, and take pauses between thoughts or before you answer a question. It doesn’t have to sound perfect. It just needs to be authentic and helpful.
- Use the other person’s first name. Even if you’re speaking to a group, try and use as many first names as possible when answering questions or engaging others. When you do, it shows that you identify them as a person and not just another inquiry, prospect, or admitted student.
- Speak with passion and excitement. People can tell when you truly enjoy what you do and genuinely believe what you’re sharing. A passionate person cares about, and takes the time to understand, the wants and needs of the person they’re talking to. When you do this it creates a more enjoyable experience and generates excitement and other emotions and feelings that again impact decision-making.
- Speak with confidence. When you speak confidently, it completely changes your tone of voice. A confident person is almost always more believable. Conversely, a lack of confidence in your voice can make others question whether or not you believe what you’re saying, or if you completely understand it. Perception matters.
These same things apply for student callers and presenters.
If this article was helpful, go ahead and forward it to someone else on your campus who you think might also benefit from reading it.
And if you’re interested in more articles like this with tips and strategies you can use right away, you can find them here in our Admissions BLOG.