Your Voice Mail Message is as Important as Any Presentation

“Hithisisjohnpleasecallmebackat2193046013.”

Who is leaving this voice message!

Who is leaving this phone message!

What? Who? You’ve no doubt received a voice message like this one that is completely unintelligible. These kinds of calls are high on our list of pet peeves.

Speak S-l-o-w-l-y and Clearly

The idea for this post came to us a few days ago when we were listening to a phone message over and over again to retrieve the name and phone number of the caller, one letter and one number at a time. It was frustrating, yet we felt obliged to get the information. It could have been a client who needed to speak to us – or possibly a new business prospect.

Your First Impression

The cliché “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” applies equally to all your communications, whether you’re leaving a voice message, or making a presentation. If you leave a garbled message for a prospect or client, you will not earn points if s/he can’t figure out who is calling or transcribe the phone number.

Also, “John, who?” We know a lot of Johns (no, not that kind). Leave your last name, too, please, so that if we can’t decipher the phone number, we can look it up.

Your Own Voice Message

By the way, now might be a good time to listen to the message you’ve recorded on your phone for callers. Tone of voice is important. Do you sound friendly and inviting or more like you have better things to do? Keep your message brief: identify yourself and your company, ask the caller to leave a message and say that you will return the call as soon as possible. (Then, of course, return the call promptly).

Tip: Stand up to record your message, use gestures and smile. You will sound more energetic and approachable.

Next Time You Leave a Voice Mail                      

So here’s what we’d appreciate, if you leave us a voice mail message. Other people you call will be grateful, too.

  • Speak slowly and clearly. Especially do not rush the phone number. Repeat the number a second time so the listener can check that s/he got it right.
  • Use your full name and organization.  Really, not everyone will recognize your voice and saying you are “John,” “Jane” or “Chris” is no help. We all know too many people by those names. Worse still is, “Hi, give me a call” with no name and number. After receiving a voice message like that, why would anyone be inspired to call back?
  • Be polite.  Being unintelligible is not the way to impress someone. But also remember to be courteous and extend the niceties such as “Hope you had a nice weekend,” or “Please let me know if there is anything else you need.”
  • Say why you’re calling.  Even one sentence about why you are calling will help the person on the receiving end prepare information that you may need when s/he calls back.
  • Offer alternative ways to reach you. If you know you are not going to be at that phone number for very long, then also give your cell phone number. Or – speaking slowly and clearly – leave an email address where you can be reached 24/7. Spell out the address, one letter and number at a time.

Presenting yourself in a voice message isn’t complicated. Simply apply the same principles as you would in delivering a presentation. Think about: Who are you speaking to? What are their information needs? What are the key messages you want to communicate?

When you remember these simple tips, you’ll see that more of your phone calls will be returned promptly. If you have other ideas about voice messages, please share them in the comment box below.

1 comment to Your Voice Mail Message is as Important as Any Presentation

  • This post is so timely because in the past week I’ve received two voice messages that were totally unintelligible. I tried deciphering them several times over but finally gave up. I guess they weren’t that important because I didn’t get any follow-up calls wondering why I hadn’t called back.

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