How to Mess Up a Perfectly Good Voicemail

It’s nice to believe that a lesson learned will stick in your head, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  It’s easy to make the same mistake over and over simply because it will come at you wearing a different disguise every time. But fancy excuses aside, beyond a doubt, the Number One reason that we repeat mistakes is simple.  We forget!

I was on the phone yesterday, leaving a voicemail message and a colleague stopped at my office door to listen.  As I hung up the phone he shook his head and let me know in no uncertain terms that I was talking so quickly there wasn’t a chance that the person I called picked up on my phone number.

Yikes! I know better than that.  And so do you.

But do you always remember?  If, like some of us lesser mortals, you sometimes forget basic things because you know them so well, you don’t think about them anymore, maybe  you’ll also benefit from a few reminders.  So, unless you truly want to mess up a perfectly good voicemail message, bring these five simple points back into consciousness, just in case:

  1. Slow down.    A conversational tone is great, but if you happen to naturally be a fast talker, ease up a bit when you’re communicating critical bits of information – like your phone number.
  2. Smile.     I still remember what a Doofus I felt like in my first cold-calling job when my boss planted a mirror in the middle of my desk and explained that I needed to look in the mirror and smile while I was on the phone.  A major eye-roller it might have been, but also shockingly effective.  Yes Virginia, you can hear someone smiling and it makes them a more desirable conversation partner.
  3. If you’re using a handset, keep your head still.    You might not realize it, but moving your head around (to stare blankly out the window or catch the eye of a passing colleague heading out the door) will change the volume level in your message.  At best it means that some of what you say will be lost and at worst, the person on the other end of the message will realize why the levels are moving around and realize they weren’t as important and the different car in the parking lot.
  4. Have a definite point to your message.   Before you suddenly find yourself blathering into someones’s voicemail make darn sure you know exactly what you want to say before you leave the message.  If you have to make a lot of repetitive calls, that will simply be a matter of sketching out a good voicemail script that works for your style and the purpose of your call. If you have made a mess of your message, hit the # key and cross your fingers for a chance to delete and hopefully, re-record.
  5. Keep it short.   Thirty seconds including your “call to action”.

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