Voicemail (depending on your viewpoint) is either the bane of existence or a wonderful tool to increase productivity. The latter is true… if you know how to leave a good message.

I receive several phone messages each week, many by salespeople. As I slog through the swamp of messages, some are easy to answer and others just get the trashcan. The ones that get a quick “delete” have the following characteristics

  • The caller speaks too fast or without clarity. You understand about every third word so nothing gets through.
  • The return number is spewed out like the BP oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. You can’t make out the number and have to listen to it several times just to get it. Usually the person leaving their number only says it once, making it doubly difficult.
  • The message sounds like, “This is Bob. Call me.” Even if you know Bob, you probably don’t know what Bob wants or needs. He doesn’t give his number so I can’t return his call unless I want to search for Bob’s number (hoping I get the right one.)

As I’ve handled my voicemail over the years, a few things will make your message easy to return.

  • Identify yourself with first name and last name. I may not know right off which “Bob” or “Karen” this is (I know several).
  • Give me a thumbnail idea of what you need. Many times, people need information. I may or may not know but could find out. If I am aware of what information is needed, I can get you complete information. If not, it will take a second phone call (both a delay and a waste of time.)
  • Give your return number clearly. When you speak on a phone, slow down (especially if you are on a cell phone). When giving your number, speak distinctly, pausing between each digit. Then at the end, say, “that number again is…” and repeat it. That allow me to correct any confusion about the number.

If you really want to get an answer, make it easy for me (and people like me) to answer your call. If it is not easy, the odds are the phone won’t ring.