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What advice do you have on voicemail etiquette?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on January 14, 2008

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Photo of Matt Neal

“Don’t leave anything too long and drawn out. Just leave your information, say what you need to and get off the phone.”

Photo of Heather Dorssom

“People need to stay focused on leaving the message. I hate it when people are screaming at their kids in the background or swearing at people in traffic.”

Photo of Jeanine Lacore

“I have no voicemail etiquette. I think it’s hilarious to get and leave silly voicemail messages.”

Photo of Billy Price

“I hate it when their greeting message is really long or they have a low-quality recording of some song they think is cool.”


jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

Man, some people are just jerks, even in their voicemail message. I worked at a job where I had to make a lot of phone calls, and there were always a number of messages in which the people, even in a 10 second bit, would sound totally rude, immature, and unpleasant. "Leave your name and number and we'll (adopt snide voice) Think about giving you a call back. If you don't leave your name and number you've saved us the bother," or something like that. Made me glad I didn't have to know them for more than just those 10 seconds every third week or so.

trinity 10 years, 5 months ago

"Maybe you could just tell us what you find annoying about telegraphs."

funniest. post. ever. for a monday morning-thanks for the laugh!

ooooooooo, i've made a plea, BEGGED for people to be brief&leave a SHORT message, on the answering machine; but instead, they seem to want to tell their entire life story! and often will get so "in" to what they're trying to tell me, they forget to leave their number, lol...

Jason Bowers-Chaika 10 years, 5 months ago

Please give me a brief reason for the call. Give a number and name at the beginning and at the end of the message. I often get calls that just say "call me." I'm busy and cell phone time costs. Give me a reason to call back as I must triage my calls and will return calls that are a priority first perhaps by cell. Others can wait until I get to a land line at the office. In addition, one message a day is enough. The more messages I have to wade through the longer it will be before you get an returned call. Stalking behaviour is not attractive.

Ceallach 10 years, 5 months ago

recipient's message should be brief, caller should try to give pertinent information without sounding like they are speaking English for the first time.

py, I seem to be one of those voicemail challenged people. I DO plan what I'm going to say while listening to their recording, but as soon as it's my turn I seem to blather on in a monotone. I just don't do that well when talking to a machine :\

Had a friend who hated voicemail so his recording just said, "You know the drill, do it!"

JJHawq 10 years, 5 months ago

My cell phone voicemail message is: "you can leave a message if you want, but I never check them so it won't matter"

John Spencer 10 years, 5 months ago

"Be brief." ....Too many words....


canyon_wren 10 years, 5 months ago

At first I thought this was another stupid OTS questions (the only good thing about those as it saves some of us posters a lot of time for that particular day!)--but after reading the actual article, it may be a legitimate question. I LOVED pywacket's response. I really get disgusted with cute kids' messages. And I, too, wasn't sure whether it was the message you received, or the one you would leave, that the question was about.

I did get a wrong message left on my answering machine once that was kind of humorous--the person was warning someone (at a different, interposed phone number) that the cops knew about something! I did figure out who was actually being called and called that number, talking to the intended recipient's mother, and told her about the warning. Weird!

I suppose it DOES irritate people when you don't leave a message, but if you aren't sure you will be available for a return call, I think that is better that than chasing around with this stupid thing called "phone tag"--I surely get tired of that expression!

canyon_wren 10 years, 5 months ago

I also meant to mention the cutesy sing-song poems that some people put on their voice-mail messages--that is in the same category as kids answering the phone.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 5 months ago

I fully agree with those who have suggested that voicemails should be brief.

Also, when you're leaving your phone number, SLOW DOWN.

moo 10 years, 5 months ago

Leave a message which is appropriate for the person who you are calling. If it is a business associate, ditto to everything said already (brevity, leave your number, etc.). However, if you're calling a good friend leave whatever kind of message they enjoy: long, silly, loud, whatever. Just make sure and say your name, it will save the other person a lot of embarrassment if they (like me) are horrible at recognizing even close friends' voices.

Oh and for telegraph messages, just make sure you put the "stops" in appropriate places. ; )

moo 10 years, 5 months ago

Oh ya, and cell phone companies, please remove all those detailed instructions that you give before someone can leave a message. We all know what to do, and I certainly don't appreciate having to hear 30 seconds of instructions and various options before leaving my brief message. Just play the person's recorded message and let people get to it. Thanks!

sunflower_sue 10 years, 5 months ago

speak up, slow down, don't mumble.

R_I, you can be boxer brief...which is my know...if I'm viewing...on a model. :D

Aileen Dingus 10 years, 5 months ago

Making an outgoing message- Thank the callers, they already know you aren't answering the phone, tell them what you want them to leave (name, number, brief message) hang up. You don't have to put your own phone number (You have reached the Jones family at 785-555-1234) because the callers already KNOW the number they called. And for goodness' sake- if you do choose to put the family name on the message don't put everyone in the household on it. People know if they get "This is the Jones family" that it includes 5 kids, a dog, 3 cats and two fish. We don't need to be reminded.

Leaving a message for someone- slow down, state your name, your reason for calling, then your number. REPEAT IT. It isn't a race, it isn't a speech. Make it clear, concise and get it done.

ms_canada 10 years, 5 months ago

I'm with moo on this - I get so frustrated with the stupid instructions on what I should do to leave a message or hang up, or whatever. I don't need a longish message from the person I am calling either. I know how to leave a cruddy message and my phone number. On the other end of the stick - we have a business and we get messages galore from our clients and some drive us crazy trying to figure out what the heck they are trying to say. And the phone number usually whizes by so fast we have to play the message twice to get it all. Why don't people speak clearly and slowly and repeat the number. That's what I do. I'm a good girl on the phone.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 5 months ago

....and please, don't have your kids record your outgoing message. You may find it adorable and cute, no one else does.

mom_of_three 10 years, 5 months ago

My nephew did the same thing - he was 11. It was pretty funny. His went "hello. pause. how are you. pause. yes, pretty good. pause. I am not here, leave a message."

I have a really inexpensive phone plan, thanks to hubby's work. got rid of landline. I try to leave messages short, sweet and to the point or I start to stutter. My eldest leaves rotten messages, and she will admit how much she panics.

hawklet21 10 years, 5 months ago

If someone leaves a message for the wrong number, I like to call them and let them know it hit my phone, not the intended person. And if I just get a missed call, and not a voicemail, I will not call back because I have no idea what they wanted, and if it wasn't important enough to get a voicemail then the call probably isn't worth returning. That sounds rude, doesn't it? But it's true.

trinity 10 years, 5 months ago

oh now hawklet, would you do that to your loved ones?? sheesh.

i remember one time i made a rah-rah answering machine greeting; said hello, then played the Jayhawk fight song, then did the "leave a message" schpiel. it was cuuute, and very appropo-was during march madness! :)

acg 10 years, 5 months ago

Didn't have time to read the posts above so I don't know if this one has been listed, but, I have to say when you go to leave a message, don't draw out the message to the point of wracking my nerves cause you're talking so slow and then rush through your phone number so fast that I'd have to be a mutant to have understood what you just said. That's annoying. I'm just sayin'.

jplanet 10 years, 5 months ago

Don't leave voicemails! I hate having to check them...and most of the time I don't. I see you called and I will call you back. I don't need the extra step of calling my VM to listen to a message that say's "Call me!".

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