10 Ways To Better Use Voice Mail
By Martin Cohn

Given everyone’s busy schedule, leaving voice mail messages is an unavoidable business practice. However, voice mail is a tool. Despite its widespread use among companies, government agencies and private residences, callers often are not prepared to leave a coherent, concise message. Many times the beep impels callers to prattle and digress.

Here are some suggestions I got from Diane Diresta, a professional speaker, coach and author of Knockout Presentation: How to Deliver Your Message with Power, Punch, and Pizzazz, to make your voice mail more effective.

1. Plan your message. Think about what you want to say before you leave the message.

2. Get to the point. Stream of consciousness doesn’t work.

3. Be brief. Aim for a 15- to 30-second message.

4. Speak slowly. The recipient needs to process the information and write it down.

5. Enunciate clearly. Bear in mind that a telephone distorts certain sounds.

6. Be “up” in your voice. A monotone lacks enthusiasm. Smile as you leave your message.

7. Modulate your volume. Too loud is irritating. Too soft can’t be heard. Don’t cradle the phone between your neck and shoulders.

8. Monitor your tine. Avoid sarcasm and irritation if you want your call returned.

9. Avoid telephone tag. Give the recipient options as to when you can be reached.

10. End with the telephone number. Say your number two times slowly.

When used properly, voice mail can improve communications dramatically. Be sure you use it to improve communications, and not to avoidcommunications. You should answer your phone whenever you are available. After all, if callers are constantly answered by voice mail, they will suspect that you are avoiding your calls.