Simple Basics: The Lowly (and Supercritical) Voicemail

Advice on how to leave an a voicemail may seem awfully remedial, but, um, you wouldn’t believe, um, how much our research has shown (…Huh? Yeah…I’ll be in that meeting in a second, I’m just leaving this voicemail…Sorry…Where was I? Oh, yeah…) how unprepared and unfocused most people are when they hear the b-e-e-e-e-p, and how much of the listener’s time they waste! Yet voicemails are one of the main tools for getting things done these days. A few basic tips:

  • Always assume you will automatically go into voicemail. No one answers their phone anymore. If you accept and are thinking that way, you are already ahead of half of all message-leavers!
  • Always remember three words: Know, Feel, Do.Your goal is to get as close as you can to just one sentence for each.
    • Hello, Joe. Here’s the one thing I want you to know.
    • The tone of your voice impacts when/if your call gets returned. (Feel)
      Ooooozing endorphins, adrenaline, and being “up” really works!
    • Joe, here’s what I need you to do.
  • 15-Second Penalty Box: People decide to Save (for “Whenever”), Delete, or Act in the first 5 to 15 seconds
  • Win in 30, Or Face Electronic Death: With only the rarest exceptions, NO voicemail should last longer than 30 seconds. About 20 is best. (Time yourself…You’ll find this takes real discipline)
  • You are Being Squeezed In: People check their voicemails in between meetings, between bites of a sandwich, at airports, sitting/standing in the bathroom, etc., etc. Never, ever when they have lots of time.

Understand and work within these rules, and you’ll be a cherished teammate. Ignore them at your own peril.