How to Leave a Professional Voicemail Message

Voicemail is a standard part of every business class telephone system. Not only will knowing how to leave a professional voicemail phone message ​reflect positively on your company, but it's also important to your professional image as well. These tips can help new or inexperienced employees leave the kinds of professional, courteous phone messages that will get returned.

Think First

Businesswoman eating lunch at desk
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A good portion of the incoming calls a business receives go to voicemail, so be prepared for what you'll say if the person you're calling doesn't pick up. Before picking up the phone, pause for a second and go through the call in your head. Narrow down its purpose to one or two sentences and leave a concise voicemail message that states your purpose and gets right to the point. 

Introduce Yourself

Begin every voicemail message by introducing yourself, so the recipient knows who calling right away. It should include your full name and company name: "Hello, this is Jim Smith calling from Company X about your account." You should also make sure you know how to pronounce the name of the person you're calling. You don't want to insult unintentionally before you've even established contact.

Talk Slowly

Speak slowly and carefully enough so that the recipient can hear and comprehend every word. Listening to messages in which the speaker is talking too quickly to be understood is very frustrating. Make sure, if you're leaving a callback number, to repeat it twice so that the person can jot it down and check it.

Speak Clearly

Talk directly into the mouthpiece of your telephone in a clear and adequately modulated tone of voice. Holding the phone between your cheek and shoulder is fine while you're dialing or while the phone is ringing on the other end, but you should avoid having the mouthpiece positioned by your neck when you're leaving a message, as it muffles the sound.

Keep It Short

You don't have to leave every detail on your voicemail message. Most business phone systems have a brief time limit for messages before cutting the call off. Leave a short summary of the reason for your call and close with a request for a callback. 

End Professionally

Just like concluding a professional business letter, you should end your voicemail with your contact information. If the person is unfamiliar with you or might have trouble placing you, repeat your name and company along with the best way to reach you. If you already have a relationship, you may skip repeating your name, but you should still be sure to note the best number to call you back and what times you'll be available.

Try Again

Instead of hanging up after you finish, hit the pound sign on your keypad. In many systems, this gives you several options, including replaying the message. Try doing so, and if you don't like what you hear, feel free to re-record it.

If you believe your voicemail message was dropped by the system before you were finished, call again. Start the follow-up call off by explaining that your previous message may have been dropped or cut off and then quickly recap. ​

Practice and Test Yourself

If you are unsure or feel nervous about leaving business messages, practice with a friend or colleague. Leave them a sample voicemail message and ask for a critique: Are you speaking too quickly? Is your voice too low? Are you difficult to understand in any way? It might also be worth leaving yourself a voicemail to hear firsthand how you sound.