Top 5 – Tips on Leaving a Voicemail in 2012

Ah the telephone. While I’m not a big fan of it, it’s still essential to getting the job and comes in handy especially when someone is avoiding your email (we all get a ton of email a day but much fewer phone calls).

A big part of using the phone is the dreaded voicemail. In your personal life, you may not leave voicemails anymore. But at work it’s still really useful.

So how do you leave a good work voicemail in 2012 – luckily I have 5 tips for you.

1 – Give your name and organization at both the beginning and end. If you only say it at the beginning, by the end I’ve already forgotten.

2 – Speak slowly and pronunciate. Nothing worse than those folks speaking too fast or mumbling.

3 – Get to the punchline quick. Make the ask clear. What do you want?

4 – Give your phone number & email at the end. Speak this slowly.

5 – Don’t expect people to listen to your voicemail. Therefore, write a short email with title “Just left a Vociemail – Title of Ask” – with the basic info as well

You? What’s your voicemail tips?

Check out some of my other “Top 5’s”

Top 5: Best Places to Have a Government Job

Top 5: Worst Places to Have a Government Job

Top 5: Reasons You Didn’t Get the Promotion

Top 10: What Works in Social Media

Top 5: Ways to Handle a Boring Meeting

Top 5 Signs You Need a New Job

Top 5: Ways to Look Important at the Office

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Raymond Clark

Great tips. Poor voicemails are a real pet peeve of mine. I do my best to do what you’ve suggested. Most important of all is to speak slowly and clearly, especially when you give the return phone number. What I don’t do is the email follow-up. In many cases, if I don’t get an answer to my phone call, I won’t leave a message and just email, “Tried calling, but no answer…”

Eric Diaz

I love this post. Definitely the phone is powerful, because as you mention people receive only a fraction compared to email.

Karen L. Jones

#2: That’s “enunciate” not pronunciate (but I knew what you were getting at). It means to articulate or pronounce words clearly and distinctly.

I always state my phone number twice at the end of the call, as once isn’t usually enough time for someone to write it down, and it saves them from having to replay the message just to get the phone number!

James V. Pritchert

At the end of the message say your phone number twice. Once to que them up and twice when they have had time to grab a pencil.

If you say your number real fast, I automatically assume you don’t want me to return the call.

Jay Johnson

Ugh, I’ve always hated leaving voicemail. But since I realize it has to be done, it’s worth doing right. thanks for the tips!

Eric Vandernoot

There should not just be a standard content to leaving voicemail, but also just answering the phone in a professional manner is also a must! I come from near NY and automatically learned how to answer the phone in the manner of 1.) stating the name of your organization, 2.) stating that “this is (your name)” & 3.) how can I help you. This immediately tells the caller whether or not they dialed the right number, who they are talking to and that they are ready to listen. Now down in FL, I can’t tell you how many times I call some business down here and they answer: “Yah?” I’m still taken aback by it!

Shawn Robertson

I’m curious. If you send an email saying you’ve left a voicemail, why bother with the voice mail? I hate getting voicemail. Email is much easier to answer, even if the email just says “Call me to talk about x.”


Biggest change since 1998 – #5 (I just sent you an email).

Reason I think it’s worth doing both is for folks that get a lot of email, showing that you just called as well shows that really trying to track them down and that it’s urgent

Robin Sweet

I like the post, good reminders. I also usually give my number twice at the end. I do disagree with the follow up email. That is actually a pet peeve of mine. I had decided I was not going to comment and then I saw this article stating the follow up email is the number one way to irritate your coworkers. Guess I’m not alone. Maybe if it was used sparingly such as when it is REALLY urgent.

Jennifer Snook

I always give my number at the beginning of the message right after I say my name. That way, if the listener has to play it back to get the number, they don’t have to re-listen to the whole message. I wish all my callers did the same.


Robin – Very interesting. Your article does have as #1 pet peeve- 1. Email to say you just left a voicemail.

So always different strokes for different folks. I’m a big fan of it because to Shawn’s point I’d much rather respond to an email than call the person back.

Raymond Clark

Robin Sweet has a good point. That’s why I normally don’t leave a message but intstead email noting, “I tried calling, but no answer. I need….” It lets the person at least know you tried. Sometimes I get feedback that says, “Well, if you had just called I could have done this or that…” This way, it at least lets them know I tried.

Carol Davison

I don’t understand the point of double messaging either. It makes twice as much work.

My tips: 1. Say “You have reached Your Name here in the Office of Widgets. Although I can’t come to the phone at this time your call is important to me. If you leave a MESSAGE with your name and number I can work on your need immediately on my return. If you need an immediate answer my back up is Joe Blow at 202-111-2222 or my superivosr Boss Lady at 202 111 2223. Thanks for calling.”

2. It’s amazing how many people just say call Mary. Mary who? at what number? Regarding what? I can’t help people who don’t leave messages.

3. My personal cell phone has pretty much the same message except I claim no home office or backups!

Carol Davison

I forgot to say you’ve reached Your Name Here in the Widget Office at 202-123-4567. It lets people know whether they called the right office.

Anthony Swinger

A pet peeve about greetings: “I’m either on my phone or away from my desk.” Ranks right up there with “Have a Nice Day.”