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How to Leave a Professional Voice Mail Message

Updated on September 29, 2016
SMD2012 profile image

I'm a business communications coach who teaches writing, speaking, and leadership skills to adults in the midst of a career change.

Leaving clear, concise voice mail messages while you look for a job is critical to making a good first impression on your future employer. Follow these tips to make sure you get a prompt call back.

Don't leave a potential employer hanging on the line.

The person you're calling shouldn't have to listen to your voice mail message three times just to get your name and number. Make sure that the message you leave is clear, concise and professional.
The person you're calling shouldn't have to listen to your voice mail message three times just to get your name and number. Make sure that the message you leave is clear, concise and professional.

Do you ever use the replay/review feature after you've left a voice mail message?

See results

If you are looking for work, drumming up new business or trying to establish contact with new clients, you're probably leaving plenty of phone messages, hoping that people with respond to you as quickly as possible. Follow these tips on how to leave a clear, articulate phone message that will have people reaching for the dial pad to call you back right away!

When you leave a voice mail message are you clear and direct about the intent of your call? Or do you just ramble on and on?

Have you ever seen a co-worker standing at her desk, rolling her eyes and waving the handset around in a gesture that says, “This message is going on forever. I wish he'd get to the point.”? People are busy and having to listen to a long-winded message just to arrive at a name and number is annoying.

Here are some tips and reminders to help you make a positive first impression as you network, make sales calls, or follow up on lucrative job opportunities.

Plan as if the person you’re calling won’t be available and you’ll have to leave a voice mail message. Take some time to jot down two or three key points that you want to make. Then, mentally rehearse your message. Once should be enough, but if you are somewhat nervous, practice saying the message out loud a few times. This might just be your dream job; you want to make a good first impression.

Make your call in a quiet location. Choose an office with a closed door or some other space where your message won’t get blasted by an unexpected background noise: a car horn, a loud sneeze, a dog barking. I believe using a landline phone is preferable to using a cell phone. You’ll sound crisper than you would on a mobile phone. And there is less chance that your call will be accidentally disconnected.

Greet your message recipient by name. Then introduce yourself as you would in person or in a business letter. Start by explaining who you are---use your full name---and why you are calling.

Speak clearly. Don’t speak too fast. Always enunciate your words, especially your name. When it comes time to leave your phone number, state it slowly. If your recipient has to listen to your message two or three times just to figure out your name and phone number, you'll end up sending the message that you can’t communicate clearly.

Put the phone receiver down softly when you are finished. My financial planner recently left me a message confirming that she’d received my instructions on what to do with this year’s investments. The tone of her voice was friendly and cheerful. She was brief and concise – she used all of the effective voice mail techniques listed above. But when she hung up, it sounded like she had thrown the receiver down. It was the equivalent of a door being slammed after a meeting. And although I doubt that was her intention, it was a little off-putting.

Whether you are looking for work, responding to an audition, or trying to generate cold call sales, you want to get a call back as soon as possible. The best way to get that call back is to be clear and concise when leaving your voice mail message. Respect your message recipient’s time and, in turn, he or she will likely call you back promptly.

What? I can't hear you!

If possible, try to avoid leaving a voice mail message when there is a lot of noise in the background. try to make your call indoors instead of out on a busy street.
If possible, try to avoid leaving a voice mail message when there is a lot of noise in the background. try to make your call indoors instead of out on a busy street.

Voice mail shouldn't be a substitute for a person-to-person talk.

Good telephone manners will never go out of style.
Good telephone manners will never go out of style.

The mistake people keep making is that if they find a wonderful new tool, like email, they have to give up all others. They don't. You have simply added another very useful means to your communications repertoire.

— Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Video Tips: How to Leave a Phone Message

To call or not to call...that is the question!

If someone doesn't return your call, how long should you wait before calling again?

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© 2012 Sally Hayes

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    Giselle Maine 4 years ago

    Hello SMD, thanks so much for your input! I see exactly what you mean now; the number at the end gives time for the listener to get a pen, thus avoiding the need for them to re-listen to the message. This is what I will do in future then. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question.

  • SMD2012 profile image
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    Sally Hayes 4 years ago

    I think if your message is short, putting your phone number at the beginning is OK as long as you're clear about why you are calling. But even then, I like to quickly re-iterate my number at the end of the message just in case the listener didn't have a pen handy right away. I think the most important thing is to be concise and clear. If a voice mail has to be repeated 2 or 3 times to be fully understood, then the message recipient might tune out or miss the most important part: to call you back! Good luck!

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    Giselle Maine 4 years ago

    Some great tips here! I personally have been putting my phone number early on in the message after my name in case the person wants to call me back directly without bothering to listen to the whole message. But is that a bad idea? Should I be putting it at the end instead? I'm keen to get your input on this.

    Thanks so much for this helpful hub, I really enjoyed it.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

    Hi, these are great tips to make you sound professional, I had to learn the hard way when I was at work, but now I think I have got the idea, mind you I still tend to mumble the phone number! lol! then I repeat it so hopefully it works out, great ideas, thanks for Sharing!

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