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Recommendations for Leaving a Voicemail

Here are 5 recommendations to make your voicemails more effective. When you're the one leaving the message, try to:

1). Get to the purpose of your call.

In this lightning-paced day and age, businesspeople can't afford a lot of time for ambling chitchat. Instead, when leaving a voice mail, make it plain upfront why you're calling. "Is it a call to action, to give an update, or are you just returning their call?" says Kathleen Rich-New, a Cape Canaveral, Fla.—based consultant. "Put the call in context so they know why they should return your call."

2). Put contact information up front.

It's happened to every one of us—you retrieve a voice mail only to have the message cut off before it's finished. That happens. But minimize the damage by pushing critical information to the top. "I always say 'This is Margot Lester from the Word Factory' and give them my number," says Carrboro, N.C., writer Margot Carmichael Lester. "Then I say, 'Please call me back,' and I give them a deadline. That way, if the call drops, the most important information is conveyed."

3). Don't repeat what the system already knows.

Sophisticated voice-mail systems will record the date and time of incoming phone calls. Don't waste time by repeating those in your message.

4). Get to know the person who's getting the message.

If you know the person gets a ton of voice mails every day, don't bog down the system—and her patience — by leaving too many voice mails when a few better crafted ones will do the job just as well.

5). Avoid trying to leave a message about numerous topics.

Trying to cover a variety of complicated issues in one voice mail is almost impossible. Instead, opt for e-mail to do as thorough a job as possible of covering every topic of importance.



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