VoiceMailEtiquetteWe’ve all experienced the symptoms before. Your palms begin to sweat. You heart rate doubles. You feel short of breath. You become dizzy and disoriented. And suddenly you hear it: that awful “beep.” Your mind goes blank and you promptly hang up. Or, even worse, you hastily string together an incoherent series of sentence fragments before trailing off and finally pushing “end call.” And just like that, Voice Mail Anxiety Disorder, or “VMAD” has claimed its next victim. 

Since the dawn of the cassette tape answering machine, VMAD has plagued humanity. Its effects can have devastating social and economic effects. “Economic?” you ask. Yes, economic, because effective communication is critical to success in business today.  Communication happens faster and via more channels than ever before.  Electronic channels such as Email, Text, Twitter, and Facebook have augmented the tried and true face to face human discussions and even telephone calls.  But through all of these changes, the proven medium of voice mail still has the ability to make or break your communication success.  When used correctly, voice mail can be an integral tool in your communication’s arsenal.  When used incorrectly, it can actually harm your efforts.  Have you ever listened to a voice mail from someone who suffers from VMAD? Sure, it’s sometimes hilarious, but it’s never pretty! Or, how many times have you thought, “gosh, (fill in name here), sure leaves long and annoying voice mail messages” or worse – “another voice mail from (fill in name here) – delete without listening.”

But at Orgwide, we help you avoid becoming another VMAD statistic. Together, we can beat this thing. Here are 5 Musts for improving the effectiveness of your voice mail messages.

  1. Plan before you dial. While you are planning to actually speak with the party you are calling (and should have a plan for your conversation when you do connect!), in today’s fast-paced-fit as-much-into-a-day business climate chances are better than ever you will have to leave a voice message – so be prepared to do so.  Do you intend to share information or do you have an expectation from the party you are calling (like a returned call)?  Plan to get voice mail, when you do you’re ready.  If you reach your party – all the better.

  2. Facts First. Effective voice mail messages start with your name, your phone number, how the recipient may know you (if needed) and the reason for your call.  Crisp and factual.  End with your name and phone number again. And remember to enunciate clearly and slowly because if you’re lucky, the party on the other end is writing down your contact information this time around. 

  3. WII-FM. Everyone’s favorite radio station (even on Sirius) - What’s In It for Me!  Why should the receiving party call you back?  Include details in your message that are important to them.

  4. Smile while you speak.  Literally.  It will come out in the tone of your voice.  If you are seeking a return call, be unique, have fun, use humor, and be memorable.

  5. Make it Easy. Make responding easier with multi-channel follow-up.  Let’s face it, if the other party has to write down your name, your phone number, and the reason for your call…then pick up the phone, dial your number, and hope to reach you…there’s a chance other things might get in the way.  Follow-up voice mail messages with an email to make it easier for the other party to respond via their computer, tablet, or other mobile device.


There you have it – 5 easy techniques to leaving more effective voice mail messages. In addition to these techniques, you might also consider strategically placing a few “VMAD Survival Kits” near each office phone. Kits might include a paper bag for hyperventilation, nausea medicine, and a defibrillator for cases of extreme VMAD. Until next time, at the beep, remember take care of the customer, take care of each other, and take care of yourself.

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