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Should You Personalize Your Voice Mail Message?

Updated on February 18, 2013

You know the drill. You bring home your brand new cell phone and remove it from the box. First thing's first, you need to set up your voice mailbox.You make that thrilling first call, and follow the prompts as directed. Then, toward the end of the process, you are asked that one fateful question; "Would you like to record a personalized message?"

You freeze up. You weren't expecting this. What should you do? Should you press 1 to record, or 2 to keep the generic message? And if you do record a personalized message, what would you say?

"Are you still there?" Asks the robot, just before she repeats your options to you again.

Well, hang up that phone, my friend. Before you make any hasty decisions, lets go over the pros and the cons of recording a personalized voice mail message.


  1. Have you ever called a cell phone number, doubting slightly that it's the right number you're calling? If someone isn't sure they have the right number, hearing a personalized voice mail message validates that it's really you they're calling, and they will be more likely to leave you a message. However, they're more likely to just hang up if your message doesn't identify you to them.
  2. If your number is a new one for you, but has been used in the past, you'll want to give considerable weight to this point. For a while, you may find yourself getting calls for the person who had your number before you did. Having a personalized voice mail message will help give people the signal that they have the wrong number. Which leads me to my next point...
  3. Wrong numbers! A personalized voice mail message will (hopefully) make Beth realize that you aren't Grandma. Upon hearing the message she will promptly hang up the phone before bothering your voice mailbox with the dreadful details of today's shopping list. Otherwise, she might leave the message and expect Grandma to bring home that toilet paper. Do you really want to be responsible for Grandma not getting Beth's message about the toilet paper? I didn't think so.


  1. If you use this number for both personal and work-related calls, it can sometimes be hard to record the right message. You want to sound professional in case someone calls you for work, but you don't want to bore your friends when they call, either. Finding the middle ground can be tricky. That's a big reason why some people choose to keep the generic voice mail message.
  2. One day, when checking your voice mail, you hear this: "Liza? Liza, this is your mother. Why did you change your number? I've been trying to get a hold of you for weeks! Luckily I ran into your friend Karen at the grocery store the other day. Such a nice girl! She gave me your new number. Anyway, I hope you have finally found yourself a nice man and that's why you've been too busy to call me. You're getting too old to be single, Liza. Liza? Call me."

"Liza? Liza, it's your mother. Why aren't you answering your phone? I'm coming over."

"Liza? Liza, open the door! I know your in there! Your car's in the driveway! Liza?!"

Sound familiar? If there's someone you're trying to avoid, maybe a personalized voice mail message isn't for you. It only validates that they've finally called the correct number, and you may start to dread listening to your voice mail. Of course, there is always the option of blocking certain numbers from calling you (if you're really that serious about avoiding someone), but keeping the generic voice mail message couldn't hurt.

Ultimately, the decision is yours. I hope this pros and cons list has helped you, if even just a little, to decide whether or not to personalize your voice mail message. There is good and bad to each choice, it's all just a matter of what you're willing to suffer through when it comes to voice mail. Good luck, and may all your voice mail messages be pleasant.


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