How to Leave a Professional Voice Message

Make sure you convey respect to clients and other callers

Voicemail has become a standard part of every business class telephone system. Not only will knowing how to leave a professional voicemail phone message reflect positively on your company, it's important to your professional image as well.

Every employee who uses the phone as part of their job should know how to leave a professional phone message. Here are a few tips for new or inexperienced employees to leave the kinds of professional, courteous phone messages that will get returned.

Think First

Businesswoman eating lunch at desk
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Before you pick up the phone, pause for a second and do a mini-rehearsal (in your head if it's more appropriate). Narrow down the purpose of the call in one or two sentences. More than 50 percent of calls go to voicemail, so be prepared for what you'll say if the person you're calling doesn't pick up. You should be prepared to leave a concise voicemail message that states your purpose and doesn't waste anyone's time. 

Introduce Yourself

Begin every voicemail message by introducing yourself, so the recipient knows who calling right away. It should include your full name and company name. Example: "This is Jane Doe calling from Company X for Suzy Jones about your account." Make sure you know how to pronounce the name of the person you're calling, you don't want to insult them before you've even spoken with them.

Speak Slow

Speak slowly enough so the person receiving the message can hear every word. It is very frustrating when you go to to retrieve a message only to find that the other person is speaking too quickly to be understood. Make sure if you're leaving a callback number you repeat it twice so the person can jot it down.

Speak Clearly

Speak directly into the mouthpiece of your telephone in a clear and adequately modulated tone of voice. Don't hold the phone between your cheek and shoulder so that the mouthpiece is positioned by your neck; that's fine while you're dialing or while the phone is ringing on the other end, but not once you're connected.

Keep It Short

You don't have to leave every detail on your voicemail message. Most business phone systems have a one to a two-minute time limit for messages before terminating the call. Leave a short summary of the reason for your call and close with a request for a call back. 

End It Professionally

Just like a professional business letter, end by giving your contact information. If you the person is unfamiliar with you or might have trouble placing you, repeat your name and company along with the best way to reach you. If you already have a strong working relationship, you may be able to skip repeating your name, but still be sure to give them the best number to call you back, and what times you'll be available.

Dropped Call?

If you believe your voicemail message was dropped by the voicemail system before you were finished, try the call again and lead off by telling the person that you believe your previous message may have been dropped. Try to keep it brief; you don't want to come across as a pest. Just state your name again and leave your number, with a greeting such as "I just wanted to be sure you got my message, it sounded like we were disconnected. Thanks!"

Practice and Test Yourself

If you are unsure or feeling nervous about leaving business messages, e, practice with a friend or colleague. Leave them a sample voicemail message and ask them for critique: Are you speaking too quickly, or are you otherwise difficult to understand? It might even be worth leaving yourself a voicemail to listen to how you sound.