4 Rules to Leaving a Voicemail

The phone rang just as our family sat down for dinner.  I picked it up and heard “Is Kallee there?” spoken by a boy in his late teens.  “Yes”. I said and promptly hung up the phone.

Phone manners have been declining steadily for decades, and this was a good example.  Those three words displayed a lack of respect, courtesy, and improper manners toward me, and he did not deserve to talk to my Daughter.  If a person calls and says: “Hello Mr. Brownlee, this is Garret Bryan, may I please speak with Kallee?” they get to.

Another example of a lack of phone manners is how we leave a voicemail.  If you have ever received a voicemail like this: “Bob, this is you know who, give me a call”… then you know what I mean, especially if you don’t know who it was or how to call him back.

The average person leaves three voicemails a day.  Voicemail is a messaging tool we use, but rarely are we trained how to use the tool.  There are four basic rules or principles and are the manners that must be part of the voicemail you leave. Work on these the next several times you leave a voicemail and you will notice positive results and gain respect.


  1. The voicemail IS:
    1. Asynchronous (information sent in one direction)
    2. A tool to leave a message.
    3. A tool to briefly inform of progress.
    4. A tool to move the conversation forward.
    5. To solicit a reply.
    6. A way to save time or even money.
    7. Very effective if done correctly.
  2. The voicemail is NOT:
    1. A replacement for actual conversation.
    2. A method of delivering facts that need confirmation.
    3. A method to avoid conflict.
    4. A method to create an obligation without appropriate understanding (which is selfish, un-polite, and un-professional).
    5. A message with private content. (The recipient may play it out loud in mixed company)
    6. A sales tool.
  3. The voicemail always HAS:
    1. Professional content. (Assume it will be played for other people)
    2. To the point. Moves the conversation forward.
    3. A pleasant tone.
      1. Talk with a smile in your voice
      2. Is not angry, yelling, offensive, or defensive.
      3. Ends on an upbeat. (such as “I look forward to your answer”, or “Have a great day!”)
    4. A brief duration.
      1. Seconds, not minutes.
      2. Precise words, not mumbling or stammering. (No “ummm…”)
      3. Does not cause the recipient to stop listening mid-message.
    5. Details. Nothing else.
  4. The voicemail COMPONENTS are:
    1. Their name
      1. Always start with the name of the person you are calling first. It is polite, courteous, shows respect, and is professional.
    2. Your name
      1. They need to know who is calling without a doubt. The voicemail is for them, not about you. Giving your name gives that person the mental picture of you, and does not cause undue effort.
      2. Do not assume the recipient knows your voice.
      3. Leave your first and last name, or your first name and company.
    3. The message
      1. Content moves the conversation forward
      2. Remember to BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front)  Say the point of the message soon.
    4. Always leave your phone number
      1. The one or two numbers they can reach you when you think they will be calling.
      2. Don’t assume they have caller ID.
      3. Don’t cause them to look up your number.
      4. Allow them to grab a pencil. “My number is <pause> 555-_ _ _-_ _ _ _”
      5. Say your number slow and enunciate so they can write it down. Say your number again so they can check what they wrote.
    5. End on an upbeat friendly “high note”.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *