Use 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. On the other hand, if there is no one you wish to share your little project with, 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".