Ever wondered why it seems to take everyone so long to return your call? I sure have. And then after quick reflection, I realized that maybe I just wasn’t doing a good job of leaving voicemails. Since then, I’ve certainly mended my ways, and the good news is that leaving an effective voicemail is quite easily done! With some basic tools and ideas, you’ll be well on your way to being an expert on voicemail etiquette.
Let’s start from the beginning…with your name!
It’s surprising how often this detail is left out of voicemails. Or if not left out, sometimes it’s said so quickly that the listener really can’t quite decipher it. First and foremost, be sure to mention your name, and it won’t hurt to even mention it twice. Also, for those of us who have a name that is unusual or is difficult to spell, adding the spelling to your message will likely be rather helpful as well.
Ensure you get a call-back
Naturally enough, the phone number is an essential part of nearly any voicemail message. Just like with your name, it’s not a bad idea to say the phone number twice. Doing so could save the listener from having to back the message up again to get the entire number. When giving the digits, speak clearly with consistent pacing.
At one time or another, I’m sure we have all been at the receiving end of a message that rambles on to infinity, and I’m guessing we’ve all been guilty of leaving one on occasion! It’s an easy trap to fall into. For voicemails, less is more. Maybe you have five questions about the proposal you just received. Instead of listing said questions, the following would typically suffice: “Hi, this is ______. I just received the proposal you sent and have a few questions that need clarification before we can make a decision. Please call me at ______. Again, this is _____ calling about the proposal. You can reach me at ______.” The recipient immediately knows why you’re calling and has the pertinent information for the call-back.
Many people I’ve worked with over the years have opted for email over a phone call for the purpose of having a paper trail. However, this is actually changing, at least with regard to voicemails. Thanks to technological developments, many systems now allow one to save voicemails as they would any other computer file. Voicemails that in the past could only be played from the user’s phone (and had to be deleted to save space on the voicemail system) can now be saved, archived, and/or shared. With that in mind, it’s probably easy to understand why less is more when it comes to how much detail one puts into a voicemail.
Last but certainly not least, tone matters. Mopey, grumpy, or confrontational messages are not only a bit unpleasant, but they also aren’t likely to receive an enthusiastic or timely response. Move to the top of someone’s to-do list by showing that speaking with you will be a positive experience, even if the topic of the conversation is a difficult one.