Has this ever happened to you: You receive a voicemail and have to replay it over and over again because you can’t understand the caller the first time around. Having to take the extra time to try to decipher a garbled voicemail is irritating at best and for many busy professionals not worth the trouble, and the voicemail gets deleted outright. A garbled voicemail also creates an impression of a lack of professionalism. Use the following tips to make sure your voicemails are coming through loud and clear:
- Slow Down: Last week we talked about how a voicemail should ideally be under 30 seconds and include four key pieces of information: an introduction, your reason for calling, how you would like the listener to respond, and your contact information. Although this may seem like a lot of information for such a short time, never rush your words when leaving a voicemail. Speak even more slowly than you would in a typical conversation—without the benefit of seeing your face, your words can become much more difficult to understand.
- Keep it Clear: Poor reception can often damage the quality of a message, and it doesn’t matter how well-crafted your voicemail is, if your listener can’t understand what you’re saying! Make sure to finish the end of each word you say, paying particular attention to consonants. Practice leaving a tiny, barely perceptible space between each word you say. Simply making this effort provides you with a cue to finish each word rather than running it into the next.
- Avoid Confusion: Some letters can be easily confused over the telephone: for example “s” and “f”; “m” and “n”; and “p” and “b”. To avoid confusion, give example words for these types of letters when spelling important information. For example: “The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s J-B as in boy-D as in dog at yahoo dot com.” Take extra care when providing a phone number as well. Pronounce each number clearly, and pause between clusters (e.g. 212 pause 555 pause 3434). Provide your phone number twice if possible; this will prevent the listener from having to replay the entire message over if they weren’t prepared to take down your phone number the first time, or if they missed a number or two.
What is your biggest hurdle when leaving a voicemail? As a listener, what makes a voicemail irritating or hard to listen to? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
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