I received a voicemail from a representative at another company, and it prompted this post on some tips for voicemails and “phone voice”. I’m not sure if you all know about phone voice, but my mom, sister, and I joke about it, since it’s difficult for people to tell which of us they’re speaking to. Particularly when my sister and I both lived at home, even my dad would sometimes say, “Hi….[awkward pause as he tries to guess who answered]…. Ashley?” Most people sound a little different when speaking on the phone, but that doesn’t change the “rules” from a face-to-face conversation.
Speak slowly! The person who left the voicemail talked so FAST! Now, I can fast-talk with the best of them, and I’m generally a pretty fast listener. But, my goodness, this person gave me a run for my money. It’s imperative to speak slower for voicemails and phone conversations, since cell reception and background noise are much more prevalent during a phone conversation. I know I’m guilty of just tuning out of a voicemail if I have to strain to understand it, so don’t make your recipient work so hard. Also, when leaving the phone number, make sure to pause between the area code and the number, to give your recipient time to write it down. I generally say numbers as follows: (123) PAUSE 456 PAUSE 7890.
Leave contact info. It sounds silly, but there are plenty of people who don’t properly identify themselves or leave their contact information. I’ve gotten messages that state, “Please give me a call. Thanks”. But… wait, how do I call you? These days, people could have a different extension than what the caller ID shows, or their cell phone number might show up as “unavailable” or “unknown”. Don’t assume the caller ID will be sufficient, leave the best number to call, and make sure you state your name and company clearly.
Professional voicemail. If you’re calling on behalf of your company, make sure that your voicemail box is set up and accepting messages for the return phone call from your recipient. Your company voicemail should clearly state your name, and if necessary, give your cell phone number or an alternate contact in case of emergency. I also recommend a professional tone on your personal voicemail, just in case. Similar to the issues with a professional email address, you don’t want clients, customers, or potential employers to think you’re immature or unprofessional due to your voicemail.
After a few listens too many, I managed to write down my contact’s name, number, and company, but I had to work to get it. Make it easy on people, and speak slowly, clearly, and professionally when calling and leaving voicemails.