I’m not really sure if this is a common problem or one of my own idiosyncrasies, but it is nearly impossible for me to leave a concise, clear, and short message on voicemail boxes. I don’t know what it is: the lack of a voice on the other end, that beep that just means “go,” or my own verbosity.
Whatever the reason or reasons, however, I seem to just talk and talk and talk when forced to leave a message. And while my friends may find this charming (read: probably very annoying), it can be slightly disastrous in a professional environment.
While perusing Wired.com’s How-To pages, I came across a handy and short checklist of essential elements to a professional voicemail message. I have rephrased and reprinted them below.
Every professional voicemail message should include these 6 essential elements:
- Clearly state your name and company. Even if you think the recipient will know; never assume. A tiring day or a bad connection can throw off all these assumptions.
- Slowly (slowly) provide your phone number. Include the area code and extension. Even if you know that the person whom you’re calling has this information, give it anyway. They may be checking their messages away from their desk.
- Provide the date and time. Also include your time zone if it differs from their own. If you are in New York and a Californian calls you at 2pm PST, they may wonder why you’ve already left for the day.
- Offer a quick summary of your reasons for the call. The why and wherefore is always necessary.
- If you need them to call you back, say so and offer up those times when you are available for a callback; this is related to #4. If this is just an FYI call, say that too.
- Before you hang up, repeat your phone number, and provide your email address when needed.