By Diane DiResta
Life is a presentation. If you leave voice mail messages, you are a public speaker. And your phone voice is often your first impression. Plan your message. Consider the points you want to make and jot down a few bullet points.
1. Get to the point.
A stream of consciousness approach doesn’t work. Think about your message and begin with your purpose. “The reason I’m calling is…”
2. Be brief.
A voice mail message that is one minute or longer is too lengthy. Respect people’s time and aim for a 15 to 30 second message. Remember the purpose is to leave a message, not give a speech.
3. Speak slowly.
The listener needs time to process the information and to write it down. Be sure to pause as you are saying your telephone number. “My number is 212 (pause), 123 (pause), 3456.”
4. Enunciate clearly.
The telephone distorts high frequency sounds such as /f / and /s/. Pronounce word endings and do not swallow syllables. This is especially important when giving your name. “My name is Diane DiResta. D as in David, I, R, E, S as in Sam, T as in Thomas, A.”
5. Put vitality in your voice.
A monotone lacks enthusiasm. Stand up and smile as you leave your message. Standing will increase your energy and people can hear a smile over the phone. Smiling conveys warmth.
6. Modulate your volume.
A voice that is too loud is irritating. A soft voice will not always be heard and the listener will miss vital information. Stand or sit up straight and speak directly into the receiver. Do not cradle the phone in your neck.
7. Monitor your tone.
Avoid sarcasm and irritation if you want your call returned. Keep an even temper and state your request.
8. Avoid telephone tag.
Give the listener options. Tell them when you can best be reached and you will prevent frustration. “I will be out most of the afternoon and will return to my office by 4:00. Tomorrow I will be in for most of the day.”
9. End with your phone number.
Although you already gave them your number, say it again and let it be the last thing they hear. It will give them time to write it down.