Telephone Lessons from the March of Dimes

“Hi. My Name is Jacki and I’m with the March of Dimes.”

You’ll recognize that as my introduction to this blog, but that’s not all it is. That was the sentence I repeated at least a dozen times today at my internship, to a dozen different sets of ears.

I’ve been interning at the March of Dimes for a few weeks, and I’ve completed a pretty wide range of tasks in that time. Before today, though, I’d only had to use the phone once at the office. One of the disadvantages of the popularity of e-mail and social media, I’ve found, is that professional phone skills become rusty without use. One of the March of Dimes; community directors gave me a much-needed lesson, and I am going to share his tips here, for those times when Facebook chat just won’t cut it.

  1. Prepare a script and practice. Don’t just dial a number and stammer your way through the conversation. Write down what you’re going to say, what questions you need to ask, and what information you need to gather or give. Go over it a few times, aloud or in your head.
  2. Introduce yourself. No one is going to answer the phone and tell you whatever you want to know without some kind of background. Who are you to be demanding this information? What are you going to do with it? Why should they give it to you?
  3. Make it worth their while. See above. You’re often calling people to ask a favor of some sort. Make sure to let them know how they will benefit from helping you.
  4. Be polite and confident. (This one works will in real life, too.)


  1. Jacki,
    I also intern at the March of Dimes! And I could not agree with you more on the content of this post. Until this internship, I was nervous ordering pizza. Now, I am calling and requesting for auction items. I feel I have already learned so much of phone etiquette, something that has been lost since the convenience of e-mail. I believe they have taught us a skill that will never really be old fashioned. Enjoy the rest of your internship, it’s a shame we’re not in the office on the same days.

    Sarah Macauley

  2. Sarah,
    It is a shame that our schedules don’t overlap at all, but I’m sure I’ll see you sometime. I agree; working here has showed me the value of personal communication with strangers. In some ways it seems so different from traditional mass media advertising, but it’s definitely not out of place.

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