I turned the volume all the way up on my phone, and I still couldn’t hear a key piece of information a caller left on my voice mail. As her message progressed, her volume decreased until she sounded like she was worried that someone might discover her talking on the phone.
This was a business call, so I have no clue why she made it sound like a secret. But because I couldn’t hear what she wanted, I had to call back before forwarding the information.
That recent call was unusual, but other problems with voice mail are fairly common. Here are my top complaints about messages:
- Omitting why you called. Even if you say “It’s not important,” I will wonder why you called. If it is important, give me a hint about the purpose of your call so I can prepare to speak to you about the subject.
- Rambling. Reaching someone’s voice mail isn’t uncommon, so prepare what you will say before you dial.
- Speaking too fast. Imagine the listener trying to write a note from your message. Slow down, particularly when saying your phone number. That leads to my final pet peeve.
- Failing to leave a call-back number. Although the person may have your contact information on file, saying your phone number is a courtesy that makes it easier for the recipient to call back fast. Best bet: Say your number—slowly—at the beginning and end of your message. If the recipient misses it the first time through, he or she won’t have to listen to the entire message again.
Share your pet peeves and advice for leaving a voice-mail message in the Comments section below.