Things to Say on Your Voice Mail

by Clyde Hughes; Updated September 26, 2017
There are several things you should do to leave an effective voice mail message

Callers can leave messages on your voice mail for a variety of reasons. Some of the messages may be friendly reminders to important business information and contacts. The things you say on your voice mail message, whether it’s a personal voice mail or business voice mail, will play an important role in what kind of information you get back from callers. There is some basic information you should always include on your voice mail.

Outgoing Message

The first thing you should do in leaving an outgoing message is to identify your name, organization and telephone number. The second thing you should do is address you availability. For example, you may want to say you are not available and give the time and day you will be back. Finally, detail the type of information you want back on the voice mail, such as name, company, number and possibly a message. A typical outgoing voice mail could sound like this: “I’m Bob Smith with Sampson, Inc. at 555-555-5555. I will not be available until 4 o’clock today, but please leave your name, company and number and I’ll return your phone call promptly. Thank you.” Remember to be brief and give clear, concise instructions to the caller.

Avoid Problems

Callers can sometimes call wrong numbers. By not stating your name, organization and phone number on your outgoing message, you can often receive messages not intended for you. By stating this information, you make sure the caller knows that they have reached the right person or dialed the correct number. You may or may not want to encourage your caller to leave a message. If you don’t encourage them to leave a message, it will be difficult for you to judge the importance of the phone call. If you receive numerous voice mail messages, those messages are important to determine what phone calls to return promptly and how to prepare for the return phone call. If you do encourage messages, you should ask for the caller to be brief or to summarize the message. Voice mails with long message explanations can become cumbersome or could not be necessary, thus wasting your time.

Add E-Mail, Social Media

Because so much information is shared through social media, you should probably consider adding online contact information to your outgoing message. The challenge in leaving social media contacts is getting the caller to understand where to leave it. It may require you to spell out your name and not assume that the caller knows. If you would like a caller to leave a message at your e-mail address, you may want to say “You can leave me an e-mail address at Bob Smith at Sampson dot com,” or “You can leave a message at b-o-b-s-m-i-t-h at s-a-m-p-s-o-n dot com.” Use your best judgment but spelling out your name and your company’s name gives the caller the best shot at getting the information correct. It is not a good idea to mention URL addresses, such as to Facebook or Twitter because those can be confusing. If you feel those are the best places to leave you messages, say on your outgoing message, “You can also leave me a message on my Facebook page.”

About the Author

Clyde Hughes has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years, mostly in the newspaper industry, covering everything from hard news, feature profiles to sports. He has done freelance writing for the "Chicago Sun-Times," "Dallas Morning News," "Charlotte Observer" and the "Washington Times." He writes a weekly column during the football season for D3Football.com and operates the website LWL-OurTown.com.

Photo Credits

  • the face behind the voice image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com