8 Tips to Help you leave a Professional Voicemail Message

You’d think that leaving an effective voicemail message would be easy. After all, you simply speak into a machine, state your query and ask to be called back. However, you’d be surprised at how many people struggle with the simple task of leaving a coherent message. Stuttering and hesitating, long awkward silences or long rambling messages, mumbled messages, no discernible name or phone number … no wonder many voicemail messages are never answered.

With help from the telephone answering and telemarketing professionals at Ansacom, here’s 8 top tips to help you formulate an effective voicemail message that stands every chance of producing a return call.

  1. Think before you act

Before you do anything else, take a moment and summarise in your mind the purpose of the call and the message you are going to leave. Given the fact that between half to two thirds of calls generally end up going to voicemail, it’s important to be prepared.

  1. How long should your message be?

Keep your voicemail message to around 20 to 30 seconds and no longer. If you ramble on past 30 seconds, the recipient is almost certain to zone out, and your message is likely to get deleted. 20 to 30 seconds is the sweet spot – a message in this amount of time will spark curiosity without demanding too much time from the listener.

  1. Pose a question

It’s important to lead with something relevant to your caller, such as a thought provoking question. Reserve certain questions for voicemail instead of email. The questions you ask in a voicemail should be specific.

  1. Avoid buzzwords

The use of buzzwords and business jargon are a risky strategy. Rather than go on about ‘must have’ products and ‘out-of-the-box thinking’, try to be original, and stand out from the crowd. It’s bound to get you noticed.

  1. Use a normal tone of voice

Although you want to sound enthusiastic on the phone, speak clearly in your normal voice and don’t use a fake tone of excitement. The more the listener feels the message is meant for them and only them, the more likely you’ll receive a response.

  1. Smile and slow down as you speak

This may sound silly but it works. Force yourself to smile as you leave a voicemail message. Somehow, the fact that you’re smiling transmits to the tone of your voice, making you sound friendly and approachable.

Another trick is to start speaking at your normal speed, but then start to slow down and get slower towards the end of your message. This tactic works! A slow finish tells the buyer they’re not just another name on a list.

  1. Leave voicemail at the end of the day

It’s a good idea to schedule your phone messages towards the end of the day. Why? Because when you’re trying to get the attention of someone, you want to be either the first or last person they hear from.

  1. Leave your number twice

Silly as it sounds, people forget. If you really want to be called back, make sure you state your phone number twice, and slowly, so that the recipient can copy it down.

And whatever you do, don’t ever say ‘call me anytime’. Unless you add a time frame to add a sense of urgency, they will never call you back. After all, you said ‘anytime’, so what’s the rush?

Finally, if you’re not sure you’ve perfected the art of leaving a professional voicemail, there’s no shame in practicing. In fact, it’s highly recommended. Ask a friend or business associate to help you. Call them and leave a message, then ask them to listen to it and evaluate it, based on the tips listed above. You can also ask them to play it back to you, so that you can listen to it for yourself and see if you sound professional enough.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.