Have you listened to your outgoing voicemail message lately? Does it sound professional? Like someone you’d want to do business with? If not, you could be losing potential clients. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Avoid old answering machines with poor quality audio.
What kind of business impression do you create if your prospective caller can hardly make out your voicemail message because of static and a barely audible voice? If I were hiring you to do a video or audio recording, I’d have second thoughts!
Be smart. Use a telephone company answering service or a good quality digital answering machine.
2. Make it clear as to the person the caller has reached.
You might say something like, “Thank you for calling. You’ve reached the voicemail of Kathy Smith, owner of Lifestory Productions.”
Don’t leave an announcement like, “Hi, I’m not in. Please leave a message after the tone.” Callers have no idea if they’ve reached the correct number or if their message will actually reach the right person.
3. Leave instructions.
Many voicemail messages end with something like “Please leave your name and number after the beep.” It’s a start. But if all you get is “Hi, this is Bob call me at 200-4000,” you have a problem. Who is Bob and what does he want? Does this call require immediate attention?
A better outgoing message provides the caller with some guidance. Here’s a sample: ” Please leave your name, the reason for your call, a number where you can be reached, and the best time for me to call you.”
4. Be concise.
Callers don’t want to listen to a lengthy monologue before they can leave a message. Your voicemail announcement shouldn’t be more than 20 seconds long.
5. Avoid being cute and clever.
Even if you have the wit of a Mark Twain, cleverness can wear thin if a caller is hearing your message for the third time. Keep it simple and business-like.
6. Script and rehearse you message.
We’ve all heard voicemail messages that covered the spectrum from flat and bored to breathless and rushed.
The tone of your voice is as important as the words being spoken. I once worked with an actress on some narration for a documentary of mine. At one point she said, “I can do that line with a smile in my voice. It’ll work better.” She was right. She actually spoke the line while smiling. It sounded friendly and welcoming.
Begin by writing down what you want to say. Read it aloud. Edit your message until it sounds right. Now try it on a friend or family member and get a critique. Before recording your message do several rehearsals so that you can deliver your lines flawlessly and with a smile in your voice.
7. Record your message in a quiet environment.
Nothing reeks more of amateurishness than a voicemail message with a background cacophony of dogs barking, kids screaming, and TVs blaring. Find a quiet room to record, preferably one with lots of sound absorbing material like a bedroom.
Here’s a sample of an outgoing message that you can adapt to suit your needs.
Hello. You’ve reached the voicemail of Kathy Smith, owner of Lifestory Productions. Please leave your name, telephone number, the reason for your call, and the best time for me to reach you. Thanks for calling.
Photo by Christomopher
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