Do you sound like a voice mail monkey? Try this …

December 14, 2009 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Business Smarts 

voice mail monkey“Hello, this is Bigtime Client. I’m out of the office. Please leave a voice message at the beep.”


“Um, yeah. This is, er, um. This is Cathy Copywriter calling. I was, uh, just wondering if you, you know, got the samples I sent and, uh, well maybe you didn’t look at them yet because I know you’re busy, but they’re in a big red envelope and I, er, so if you like them maybe you could, uh … ”


The dreaded voice mail message. It’s intimidating and merciless. It can catch you unprepared and will record every stuttering syllable as you try to string together a few intelligent sentences. More often than not, you end up sounding, shall we say, less than professional.

What’s the answer? Be prepared with a short “script.”

You should write your script before you call. And you should remember to speak slowly and clearly. No ers, ums, or uhs.

  1. Say “Hello” and use the person’s name. Be sure to pronounce it correctly.
  2. Say your first and last name. If you have a difficult name, spell it slowly.
  3. Say your complete phone number, including area code. Again, speak slowly. The person you’re calling may be taking notes.
  4. Say why you’re calling. Keep it short with two main points, maximum.
  5. Say whether you’ll call again or you expect a call back. Give a time you’ll call or say when you will be available.
  6. Say your complete phone number again, slowly.
  7. Stop talking. Hang up.

Here’s an example:

“Hello, Mrs. Bigshot. This is Cathy Copywriter at 123-456-7890. I’m following up on the samples I sent you last week. Also, I wanted to see if you needed any additional information. I’ll call you Thursday at 10 a.m. Or you can reach me any day this week before noon. Again, my phone is 123-456-7890. I’m looking forward to speaking with you.”

That’s it. Don’t add on. Don’t ad-lib. Don’t say goodbye multiple times as in “Thanks. Talk to you later. I’ll see you. Bye bye.” Read the script. Hang up. It should take you about 30 seconds tops.

The moment you hang up, send a short email to say you called. Repeat the main points of your voice mail message. Some people don’t check their voice mail very often, so the email is a good backup. Better yet, create a template email, fill in the details, read from it for your message, then send it.

If you are simply terrified of voice mail, even with a script, don’t leave a message at all. When you realize the person you’re calling isn’t answering, hang up without saying a word and send an email. Then you can try calling again later.

Trust me, I don’t like voice mail any more than you do. But a script can put you at ease and make you sound professional and reasonably intelligent. If it works for me, I know it will work for you.

Question: Have you ever had a voice mail nightmare?

Related posts:

  1. How to write a complete direct mail package

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