How to Leave a Proper Voice Mail

When’s the last time you left someone a voice mail?

Can’t remember? Figures. An NPR story in late October reports on how millennials can’t stand voice messages.

Jane Buckingham, a “trend analyst” (whatever that is), explains in the article why our generation prefers text messages and Facebook posts to old-fashioned voice mail. Jane says:

“So for [millennials] if a voice mail isn’t practical — which most of the time it isn’t — and there’s a more practical way of delivering the same information, they’re gonna go for that.”

I get it. If I call a friend and he doesn’t answer, I hang up and send a text.

Other times, it’s not so easy. If I call someone for business, the hang-up-and-text method doesn’t work. I need to leave a professional voice mail and say all the right stuff as soon as the **BEEEEEP** comes in.

I know career-related phone calls can be awkward and even nerve wracking. So in September, I wrote four templates to make it easier (ex: how to check on a job application). See that column here.

Today, I’m adding one more template:

How to Leave a Proper Voice Mail

Before you listen to my sample voice mail, there are four guidelines:

1. Don’t go on forever

Isn’t it the worst when someone holds an entire (one-sided) conversation in a voice mail? Explain who you are and briefly why you’re calling. Then say goodbye and hang up.

2. Always start with your name (Hi, my name is ____)

Don’t make people guess the voice in the voice mail. By the time they figure it out, they didn’t pay attention to anything you said.

3. Give contact info S-L-O-W-L-Y

It’s annoying when someone says a phone number or email address quickly — and only one time — and then hangs up. Then I need to play the message a second time to write down the number.

Say your number slowly, digit by digit, and then do it a second time. Same goes for an email address. Letter by letter.

4. Repeat your name at the end

You know when you meet someone and never catch the name the first time around? You shake hands, say hello but then think “Wait, what was her name again?” Same for the voice mail. Repeat your name and company at the end so the person is 100% clear on who left the message.

Here’s a transcript of a sample voice mail recording:

Hi, my name is Danny Rubin from News To Live By. It’s 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon. I am following up because I sent you a blog post for your website earlier today and I want to make sure you received it.

Please call me back on my cell phone at 5-5-5…5-5…5-5. One more time, it’s 5-5-5…5-5…5-5. Again, my name is Danny Rubin from News To Live By. Thanks so much.

Simple enough? If you only remember one nugget from this blog post, it’s to overcommunicate contact info: your name, company, phone number and/or email.

Despite all the texting and tweeting, talking on the phone is a necessary evil. Plus, phone skills are one more way to impress people who think millennials can’t hack it in the real world.

Advantage: you.

(This content was originally posted at News to Live By.)

About Danny Rubin

Danny Rubin is a media strategist and the managing editor of News To Live By™, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons "hidden" in the day's top stories. A former TV reporter, he's always looking for ways to apply the news to our own lives. Follow him at @NewsToLiveBy.



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