by Brett McKay
I’m not a big fan of voicemail. I don’t mind leaving voicemail messages; I just hate having to listen to them. For some strange reason when people know their voice is being recorded, their brain short circuits. What normally would take 30 seconds to say, now takes 2 minutes.
I don’t mind it so much for people I know. I have to deal with them on a daily basis, so I can’t hold voicemail grudges against them. However, if someone cold calls me or it’s just an acquaintance that calls, a crappy voicemail annoys me and leaves a bad impression.
I know. It’s superficial, but I’m human. But a prospective employer or client is also human, so there’s a good chance that crappy, unclear, and long voicemails annoy them too.
So, for your consideration, here are 8 tips to help you leave the perfect voicemail and, consequently, a good impression.
- State your name first. You would think this would be so basic that it shouldn’t even be mentioned. However, I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten voicemails where people go on and on and I don’t even know who’s talking to me until the very end. Pretty annoying.
- State the purpose of your call. In as few words as possible, state why you’re calling. Is it in regards to an interview appointment? Are you following up on a previous meeting?
- Find some common ground. If you’re cold calling someone, your voicemail is your 30 second chance to make a connection and leave a good impression. One of the best ways to make a connection in that short amount of time is mentioning a mutual acquaintance. You could also mention a shared affiliation with an organization.
- Be brief. Don’t make you listener resent you by leaving 5 minute long messages. People are busy. Listening to 5 minute phone messages is not on the top of their priorities.
- Leave a specific request. What do you want your listener to do? Sure, you want them to call you back, but why? To answer a question? To set up an appointment? People will appreciate it if you give them specific actions for their call back. That way they’ll know they won’t be wasting a lot of time on the call back trying to figure out what you want.
- Leave your contact info slowly and clearly. You’ve gotten this far, don’t screw it up by muddling the very information that will allow your listener to get back to you. Go slow and be clear.
- Consider leaving your e-mail in addition to your phone number. People like choices. Some people like to have conversations on the phone, while others prefer communicating through e-mail. You don’t know what kind of person your listener will be, so leave the option on the table. For many, e-mail correspondence is less threatening and might actually encourage them to reach out to you.
- Be Brief. Did I mention be brief? Yeah? Make sure to do it.