Business Etiquette On the Phone – 5 Tips for Leaving Messages That Will Be Returned

Telephone messages sometimes need a bit of business phone etiquette. How often have you received a voice message like this: Oh, hi, I was thinking about blah blah blah. The message rambles on for five minutes without ever getting to the point. What a waste of time.

Here are 5 tips for leaving meaningful messages that won’t annoy your listeners:

1. Expect voice mail. When you call someone, you are most likely to get an answering machine. Instead of finding yourself off-guard, plan what you will say if you get voice mail, as well as what you’ll say if you reach the person.

2. Think about the message. Every phone call should have specific information that will move the conversation along. Think about what your listener needs to know or do. Does this person need to call you back, do something, or send you something? Or are you leaving information to update a previous contact? You may be able to resolve your problem without another phone call.

3. At the start of your call, summarize your message. For example: I’m calling for three reasons. I need to know the time of the meeting tomorrow, who to contact about product X before the meeting, and which reports you need.

4. Leave instructions about how and when the other person can best reach you – the more specific the better.

5. Always leave your return number, including the area code. Even if your listener knows you well, he or she may be on the road and not have access to their phone directory. Leaving your number is a small courtesy that saves your listener time and trouble, and is likely to get you a call back. Make it easy for people to connect with you.

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