in: How To, Skills

• Last updated: September 26, 2021

How to Leave the Perfect Voicemail

Vintage man on telephone.

I’m not a big fan of voicemail. I don’t mind leaving voicemail messages; I just hate having to listen to them. For some strange reason when people know their voice is being recorded, their brain short circuits. What normally would take 30 seconds to say, now takes 2 minutes.

I don’t mind it so much for people I know. I have to deal with them on a daily basis, so I can’t hold voicemail grudges against them. However, if someone cold calls me or it’s just an acquaintance that calls, a crappy voicemail annoys me and leaves a bad impression.

I know. It’s superficial, but I’m human. But a prospective employer or client is also human, so there’s a good chance that crappy, unclear, and long voicemails annoy them too.So, for your consideration, here are 10 tips to help you leave the perfect voicemail and, consequently, a good impression.

Think through what you are going to say before you place the call. When men hear the beep, they often freeze up and forget what they wanted to say. If you want to be the go-to guy at work, then you have to exhibit competence on all levels. Don’t spoil your confident image by hemming and hawing and filling your messages with “uhhhhs,” and “ummmms.” If it’s a really important call, consider writing out what you want to say beforehand. If the person picks up, great, you now have some notes to remember what you wanted to talk about. If they don’t answer, you can leave a clear and concise message.

State your name first. You would think this would be so basic that it shouldn’t even be mentioned. However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten voicemails where people go on and on and I don’t even know who’s talking to me until the very end. Pretty annoying.

State your number right after your name. Many people wait until the very end of the message to state their number. This will irritate the receiver of your message because if he doesn’t get it down, he then has to sit through the whole damn message again to hear it repeated.

Repeat your phone number twice. People seem to forget that the receiver of their message has to write the number as you say it. Don’t rush through it. Even when you say it slowly, it’s hard to get down the first time. So repeat it again, so they can check to be sure they got it down right.

State the purpose of your call. In as few words as possible, state why you’re calling. Is it in regards to an interview appointment? Are you following up on a previous meeting?

Find some common ground. If you’re cold calling someone, your voicemail is your 30 second chance to make a connection and leave a good impression. One of the best ways to make a connection in that short amount of time is mentioning a mutual acquaintance. You could also mention a shared affiliation with an organization.

Be brief. Don’t make your listener resent you for leaving a 5 minute long message. People are busy. Listening to 5 minute phone messages is not on the top of their priorities and wastes their time. Many callers seem to think they are the only person in the world leaving a voicemail for a particular person. Yet a dozen other people feel the same way and a man ends up holding the phone to his ear for an hour.

Leave a specific request. What do you want your listener to do? Sure, you want them to call you back, but why? To answer a question? To set up an appointment? People will appreciate it if you give them specific actions for their call back. That way they’ll know they won’t be wasting a lot of time on the call back trying to figure out what you want.

Consider leaving your e-mail in addition to your phone number. People like choices. Some people like to have conversations on the phone, while others prefer communicating through e-mail. You don’t know what kind of person your listener will be, so leave the option on the table. For many, e-mail correspondence is less threatening and might actually encourage them to reach out to you.

Be Brief. Did I mention be brief? Yeah? Make sure to do it.

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