Answering a Call and Taking a Message (Adv)


Students will learn the appropriates ways to answer a phone and take a business message.
Student Level: 
Unit Group: 
General Business - Telephoning

Warm Up (5 mins)

How many times per day do you answer your phone at work?

What would you say if you had to answer your work phone in English?

How is it different from answering your private phone when you know it's a friend calling you?

Listening (5 mins)

Watch the following video.

1. What are the two rules that the presenter mentions for taking calls correctly?

Reading Comprehension (10 mins)

Read the following article.

1. Summarize in your own words how to take effective telephone messages.

Conversation Skill (10 mins)

Asking for Repetition

Conversation Skill Point: 

Often we need to ask somebody to repeat what they just said.

This is especially common on the telephone where distortion and background noise can make it difficult to hear the message correctly.

Sometimes it will be necessary to ask people to spell the information. A good way of avoiding mistakes when doing this is to use the International Civil Aviation Authority phonetic alphabet.

Letter Code Word Letter Code Word Letter Code Word
A Alpha J Juliett S Sierra
B Bravo K Kilo T Tango
C Charlie L Lima U Uniform
D Delta M Mike V Victor
E Echo N November W Whiskey
F Foxtrot O Oscar X X-ray
G Golf P Papa Y Yankee
H Hotel Q Quebec Z Zulu
I India R Romeo - (hyphen) Dash

Speaker A

Speaker B

Speaker A

I'm sorry but I didn't catch that. Could you repeat that for me?

Yes, I said my name Mike Selby.

I see. So that's "S" as in Sierra, "E" as in "Echo", "L" as in "Lima", "B" as in "Bravo" and "Y" as in "Yankee"?

So your phone number is 090 8245 4555?

No, the last four numbers are 4559 !

I see. I'm very sorry. 090 8245 4559 ?

Pardon me but I lost your voice for a minute. Could you repeat your company name please?

Yes, it's Quix Media.

That's "Quix" starting with a "Q" for "Quebec"?

Excuse me sir but could I have your name again?

Of course. It's Brian Shelby.

Thank you Mr. Shelby.

Practice saying the following names using the phonetic alphabet method.

1) Mr. Venson

2) Lillian Green

3) Groove Media

Vocabulary (5 mins)

call backdemonstration

Role Play (15 mins)


Case Study (15 mins)

Imagine that everyone in your team is in a meeting.

You have volunteered to answer phones and take messages for your team members while they are away from their desks.

1) Brainstorm with your instructor the types of phone calls your team might receive.

With your instructor, practice answering the phone and taking phone messages for your co-workers.

Remember to write down:

  a) the name of the caller (use the phonetic alphabet method if necessary)

  b) where they are calling from

  c) the message (if any)

  d) a contact number to call back

  e) the best times/s to call back

2) Imagine the meeting has ended. Explain the phone calls that you received.

Extension Activity

When answering a telephone at work, do you think it is necessary to give your own name?

Why or why not?

If yes, do you think you should give your full name or just given name?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of "voice automated" answering systems, such as those used by large banks?

Review and Quiz (5 mins)

Do you have any questions about this lesson?

What did you learn today?

Did you learn any new vocabulary or expressions?

Ask your instructor for tips on how you can improve your English.

Finally, don't forget to take the quiz after all your lessons are finished today.

Thank you !