Answering a Call and Taking a Message (Int)


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 would you answer your private phone when you know it's a friend calling you?

Listening (5 mins)

Watch the following video and fill in the blanks based on what the speaker says.

"Always give the customer or the party who called in the __________ they need to know in order to make a decision".

Reading Comprehension (10 mins)

Read the following article.

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

Grammar (5 mins)

Reported Speech - Questions

When reporting questions from a third party we should change the verb to the past tense.

We can use "asked if" or "wanted to know if" for closed questions (when the question has a yes/no answer).

Otherwise use "asked when", "asked where" etc.

Direct Question

Reported Speech Question

Will Diane come to the presentation?

He asked (me) if Diane would come to the presentation.

Are the conference rooms available?

She asked (me) if the conference rooms were available.

Can you chair the meeting tomorrow?

He wanted to know if I could chair the meeting tomorrow.

How long does it take to get to your office?

She asked (me) how long it took to get to our office.

When will the project plan be finalized?

He asked (me) when the project plan would be finalized.

Why did the customer return the goods?

They wanted to know why the customer returned the goods.

When can Ms Kobayashi call me back?
Is your office open on public holidays?
Can I visit your office on Monday?
Where is the nearest customer service center?
Have the campaign materials been printed yet?

Imagine you answered the phone and received the above questions from a caller.

Report the questions you heard to a co-worker using

a) She asked me....


b) She wanted to know....

Vocabulary (5 mins)

call backdemonstration

Match the above column on the left with the column on the right. More than one answer may be possible.

Next, make sentences using the reported speech question pattern.

e.g. She asked if you could resend the email.

Role Play (15 mins)

Keiko:Good afternoon, Wintech Industries. This is Keiko speaking. Can I help you?
Barnaby:This is Barnaby Jackson from One Connect. May I speak to Mr Lee, please?
Keiko:I'm very sorry but Mr Lee isn't available right now and I'm not sure when he will be back. Could I take a message for him?
Barnaby:Could you tell him that Barnaby from One Connect called. I'd like to talk to him briefly to discuss a couple of points on the contract he emailed me. Could you ask him to call me back?
Keiko:Certainly Mr Jackson. Could I ask how you spell your given name?
Barnaby:Sure, it's B-A-R-N-A-B-Y.
Keiko:Please let me confirm the message. Mr Barnaby Jackson from One Connect called. You would like Mr Lee to call you back to discuss the contract which he sent.
Barnaby:That's right.
Keiko:Thank you. And could I please have your phone number Mr Jackson?
Barnaby:Absolutely. It's 03-2402-8977.
Keiko:And when is the best time for him to contact you?
Barnaby:Anytime today before 6pm would be great. Otherwise, he can try to catch me early tomorrow but I have a kind of busy day planned.
Keiko:I'll mention that to him.
Barnaby:It's an urgent matter so I hope I can speak to him soon.
Keiko:I understand. I will make sure he gets your message as soon as possible.
Barnaby:I appreciate your help.
Keiko:My pleasure Mr Jackson.

Try the role play again.

This time take a message from your instructor, then imagine you are reporting that message back to a co-worker or your boss.

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 !