When leaving a professional voicemail — or any other voicemail, for that matter — you should take a few things into consideration if you want the call to be returned:
1. If the voicemail cannot be understood, it will likely not be returned. So, if you’re in your car and know the connection is poor, wait until you’re in a better spot. If you’re in a crowded room, walk out for a minute to place the call. If your name or number cannot be heard, the message will likely be deleted; most people don’t have time to try to decipher what you’re saying.
2. If leave a voicemail of more than a minute for a person whom you don’t know, that person will likely delete the message without even listening to it in its entirety. There’s nothing that should take you more than 30 seconds to say to a stranger. It’s unnecessary to recite your life story or career summary in a voicemail; if it gets too lengthy and irrelevant, then it probably won’t be listened to. Keep it concise. State your name clearly, the reason for call (if necessary), and a number where you can be reached (repeated twice for clarity).
3. Don’t say you don’t know if you’re calling the right person, or you don’t know how you got his or her name. The person will likely assume that he or she is not the intended callee and delete the message. People want to hear that you’ve called the correct individual, have a reason for the call, and warrant a callback.
The bottom line is that a voicemail is, oftentimes, the first impression you’ll make; it should therefore be articulate, concise, and professional. Know what you’re going to say before you dial the number. Plan on receiving someone’s voicemail and have a message prepared. In most cases, the voicemail you leave will determine whether or not you’ll get a callback.
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