5 Things NOT to Do When Leaving a Voicemail Message

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It’s that time of year — everyone is busy and phones are ringing!  People are in a hurry to get what they need and anticipating a prompt response.  But it’s not likely you’ll get exactly what you are looking for if you don’t leave a proper message.  That being said, here are 5 things NOT to do when leaving a voicemail, in order.

5. Do NOT start with your phone number.  I hate it when people leave their name and then immediately say their number: “This is John Doe, 555-1234.”  If it doesn’t flow in a conversation you would have face to face with someone, why would you do it in a message?  You want to cue the listener when they will be writing the number down so they are mentally prepared to do so.  Just by saying “my number is” or “you can reach me at” gives the listener enough time to expect to write it down.

4. Do NOT Mumble.  This may also be part of the quality of service if you are on a cell phone, but be sure to state your name at the beginning and the end of your message clearly and also say your number twice.  There have been times where I’ve received a message that was so broken up that the only way I was able to call the person back was because they repeated their number and I was able to connect the dots.  At the very least, I could ask the what they were leaving the message for again, however I wouldn’t be able to ask if I didn’t know who to call.

3. Don’t Talk Forever.  This is obvious.  Get to the point, say what you need and be done.  If you need to convey a lot of information, wait for the person to call you back.  A good voicemail should be 15-45 seconds.  Maybe a whole minute.  If it’s more than that, you’re talking too much.

2. Do NOT assume the person listening to the message knows everything you know.  Sometimes people don’t check their own messages, that being said be concise yet thorough.  Saying “Hey, this is so-and-so — call me back!”  is never a good idea for a professional voicemail and yet it happens… too often.  I’ve literally dealt with 2-4 people who have the same name at a time so when this happens, I have to go through and guess who I should be calling.  This is why it is important to state your first and last name, your number and the date you’re calling about (or in other fields, the most applicable information that will connect you to the reason you are calling such an account number, etc.).  You can briefly say why you’re calling: “Just following up in regards to the proposal.”  But make sure it is something that someone else who works there can figure out.  If someone else is taking messages, they may not be as thorough as you hope so make it fool proof!

1. Do NOT rush while leaving your actual phone number.  I really don’t understand what’s up with this one, but it seems to be a continual habit.  Your number is how this person is getting back to you and yet people leave messages where they speak at a continual and even pace and then blurt out their number so fast its barely understandable.  Why, Why???  Just because you know your phone number doesn’t mean I do.  The phone number should be said twice and slower than your normal speech so the person has time to write it down correctly.  No one likes having to listen to messages multiple times to try to figure out what the heck someone said.  Make it simple for everyone and just slow down a bit.

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