How to make a professional telephone call in English

The ability to speak confidently and effectively on the phone in a foreign language can be one of the biggest challenges of working abroad for many people. But while it is easy to feel self-conscious, remember this: it is ok to make mistakes!

The most important thing is to communicate your overall message successfully in order to get your work done.  You will find that most people are very patient on the phone, particularly if it is clear that your first language is not English, so just go for it and don’t be afraid!

To help you, here are some useful phrases for common telephone situations:

How to answer the phone

“Hello, Anna speaking. What can I do for you?”
“Experience English. How may I help?”

How to call somebody

“Hello, it’s Anna from Experience English.  Please could I speak to Bob?”

“Hello, it’s Anna from Experience English. Is Bob there?”

How to take a message

“I’m afraid Nicole is not in today/ on her lunch/ out of the office/ in a meeting, would you like to leave a message?”

“I’m afraid Nicole is not in today, please can I ask who’s speaking?”

How to transfer somebody

“I will just transfer you to Jack, who will be able to help.”
“Jack works in a different department, please hold while I check if he is available”

How to explain that someone has the wrong number

“I’m sorry, I’m afraid Jo doesn’t work here.”
“I think you have the wrong number, sorry.”

Why not try writing these on a post-it note and stick it by your phone? Clear reminders will help you to focus and feel confident.  Before you know it, you will find that you don’t need your post-its anymore!


If you want to improve your English at work, we offer a range of courses to help you communicate more effectively in a professional environment, from Business Communications to Legal English, Financial English and more. Click here to see the full list of courses.

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