Consulting 4.2 Digital communication: Giving information on the telephone

This lesson will focus on giving and receiving information over the telephone, as well as using natural intonation patterns to communicate clearly. 


When was the last time you used English on the phone? 

Warm Up: 

Read the dialog below. Stan is a senior partner and an expert in his field.

As you read, pay attention to intonation.

Stan: Stan speaking.
Kim: Hi, Stan, Kim here, from Atlanta. We have a 2 o'clock to talk about emerging players in the market.
Stan: Hey Kim. Of course. What can I do for you?
Kim: Thanks for your time again. I really appreciate it. I just had a few follow-up questions.
Stan: No problem. I’m in a taxi, but we should be fine to talk for 20 minutes at least. Is that enough?
Kim: Should be fine. So you mentioned some key innovators in the American market. But would you also have any insight into the European market?
Stan: Have you spoken to Adrienne?
Kim: Adrienne? No. I’m not aware of them.
Stan: Adrian Dubois in the Brussels office. Talk to him about Europe.
Kim: Do you happen to have his contact details?
Stan: Yeah, it’s on my phone. Hang on. I’m putting you on speaker. Okay. It’s Adrian Dubois. That’s A,D,R...
Kim: A,D,R...
Stan:  I,A,N.
Kim:  I,A,N.
Stan: Last name Dubois D, U, B... O, I S.
​​​​Kim: D, U, B... O, I S. Thanks so much.
Stan: Yeah. Ring his assistant, Peter. That number is 02, 5##...
Kim: Sorry, I didn’t catch that. 02?
Stan: Yeah, there was some road work. Let’s start again. That’s 02, 555...
Kim: 02, 555...
Stan: 6872.
Kim: 6872. Okay, thanks.

Discuss the following:

  1. How did Stan and Kim exchange information? 
  2. When Kim says, "Adrienne? No. I’m not aware of them," why does she choose to say them?

A: When giving information, it's important to pause and let the other person write down what you said. Use a rising tone to indicate that more information will come, and a descending tone to indicate it's finished. Try saying the information below:

  1. 687↗, ...129↗, ...23↗...72↘.
  2. Curzon Street,—that's C, U ,R↗ ...Z, O, N↘ street.

Now practice:

  1. 2340949329
  2. Staffmire Avenue

B: When saying numbers, you can put them together so, for example, 13 is said as "thirteen". However, you might have trouble hearing the difference. In that case, you can also say the numbers individually. 

  1. Was that thirteen, as in one, three?
  2. Is that eighty, as in eight, zero?

Try saying the phone number below. Say the numbers to your teacher and correct anything they misunderstand. 

  • 18-41-4019

C: When spelling, some people may mishear certain letters. In this case, English speakers use this style:

  1. A as in apple;
  2. B as in bear;
  3. ...etc.

Any word is fine, as long as it's clear what the first letter is. For instance, it's a bad choice to say "R as in rock" because "lock" is too similar. Rather, "R as in Rome" or "R as in ring" would be better. Try spelling these names and correct anything that's misheard.

  1. George Takei
  2. Étienne Moreau 
  3. Bjork

Note: If you are unsure about the pronunciation, then simply be honest and offer to spell it. 


A: Your teacher will call you and ask about the following information. Listen to their questions and make sure you communicate your answers clearly.  

  1. One top startup company of 2017 is OpCity, which makes cloud software for real estate brokerages and is valued at US$99 million. Another is UiPath, which makes workflow software and is valued at US$110 million.
  2. The Icelandic rock band Sigur Ros's breakout album was Agaetis Byrjun, which was rated 9.4 out of10 by the taste-making music site The band's longest-running members are lead singer and guitarist Jonsi Birgisson, bass player Georg Holm, and drummer Pall Dyrason. 

B: Now try calling your teacher about the following situation: 

  • You have an appointment for a short talk with IT expert Fred Armisen at Amsterdam University, however, the extension on his phone number doesn't work.
  • Call the front desk at the university and ask to be put through.
  • Ask about which Dutch startup companies might be considered market disrupters.