There is a rhythm and flow to a good telephone conversation. A rhythm and flow. As in any contact between people, a connection must be made, a rapport established. It is akin to climbing a perpendicular rock wall, to catching the rising tide and taming the howling winds, to walking barefoot over broken glass. Once the initial resistance (pain) is overcome, everything goes easier. It flows. Plunge in, immerse yourself and set free your voice, let it express your feelings, let it sing for you, let the telephone wires carry your message, and at some point (perhaps) there will be a "click". That is the resonance point, the place where things fit together. The channel will be open, and the words will come, they will come of their own accord, and flow, smoothly they will flow, as though destiny itself had written them in fire.
Hopefully, you will have by now filled up the first several pages of the project book. At this point, transfer the information to a format that will better suit your purpose. Consider making a wall chart, a more or less elaborate diagram on poster board that will prompt you, guide and direct your conversation, when required. This will function as a sort of "talisman", or lucky charm, to boost your confidence as needed.
Another item in your "tool box" is a set of index cards, that can likewise serve as a reminder and memory aid. This will remedy the "I should have said that" and "if I had only thought of..." syndrome. The cards can be used to take notes while you talk, and, at the very least, they will occupy your your hands and keep you from biting your nails.
Maintain a scrapbook of interesting facts, meticulously gathered and culled out from the newspapers and publications you read. This can help spark the conversation. During those dreadful moments of awkward silence, when neither of you can think of anything to say, you can discreetly leaf through the scrapbook and -- Aha! "Did you know that...?"
Finally, you might want to try a "dry run", or rehearsal. Call a sympathetic family member or a good friend who will not laugh at you, and have this person play the part of the woman you will be speaking to. Practice your varying "opening lines" and responses, and ask for feedback. A little gentle criticism can do wonders for your phone technique. If, on the other hand, there is no one with which you wish to share your little project, you can always do this by yourself, tape recording the session if you like. Repeat the procedure until you are confident you can handle "the real thing".
"Hello, I'm John Smith. No, I'm not peddling insurance, just my own sweet self. I'm the fellow who asked you for your phone number last night at the art gallery. Yes, the one who looked like the court jester, or fool, if you like (the sports jacket and tie Aunt Millie gave me for my 14th birthday were still at the dry cleaner's). Hello. Hello."
Time to let her talk. Keep enough presence of mind to make the appropriate noises and grunts at the right times to let her know you're still there. Laugh at her funnies. Encourage her. Administer verbal strokes and smiles, as necessary.
Speak in your natural voice... you need not strain. Take care not to dwell overly much on yourself. I, I, I, I... talking about I and me constantly is boring, boring. Ask her about herself, question her gently. Let her talk. Listen. Listen. Respond. Pepper the conversation with humor, genuine good humor. Humor is the saving grace of human discourse.
There is an abundance, a veritable universe to talk about, to share.
Avoid like the plague politics, religion, and conspiracy theories. There will be plenty of time to argue about these later in the relationship. Iffy topics include demonic possession and the occult, UFO's, and the weather. Subject that tend to arouse strong negative feelings or conversely, that evoke no feelings at all, are best left alone.
When the conversation starts to wind down, when you both run out of
things to say - this is a signal to sign off. Tell her how much you
enjoyed speaking with her, that her company, even at a distance, has
enlivened your evening. Ask her, gently, if she would care to repeat the
experience (assuming it has not been too painful for either of you).
Hang the phone up and have a tall, cold orange juice to celebrate.