PSA: How to leave a telephone message

(This picture is a lie. Voicemail rarely elicits this kind of joy from me.)

Attention, attention!  This is a Public Service Announcement.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in New York, and New Yorkers are always in a hurry, so most New Yorkers I know have very little tolerance for wasted time, myself included.  lol.  Anyway, one of my pet peeves is rambling voicemail messages.  Since almost anyone with a cell phone can either email or text, I dislike voicemail because I have to go through the trouble of calling to retrieve the message, and then straining to hear the message above the noise of my workplace or the city.  Waste.  Of.  Time.  So my attitude is, if you’re going to make me go through the trouble of retrieving your message, you’d better leave a clear message that gets to the point.

Mark Hurst (aka “Uncle Mark“) understands my pain.  And he has written the following advice:

When you’re leaving a telephone message – on an answering machine, on a cell phone’s voice mail, etc. – think about the experience of the person listening to the message.  The single most important piece of information in that message is your phone number. Even if everything else in the message is garbled, if they can understand your phone number, they can at least call you back.

Conversely, most people don’t want to hear a long, drawn-out, repetitive, boring, endless, boring, repetitive message.

Why is it, then, that people often do exactly the wrong thing when they leave a message?

“Hey there, so um, this is, um, Greg, and we’re going to send you that report, ahhhhh, as soon as we have it, and anyway, you’ll be getting that report soon. And when you do, uhh, could you call me, at, twoeightsifivesixfourfourthreetoeighnine.” Click.

A long, boring, repetitive message, and then he turns into a speed demon when he leaves his phone number. WHY? And then to make it worse, to get the phone number, you have to listen to the whole message again, waiting for that last two seconds of nonsense. Sheesh.

All I have to say to that is “AMEN!”  Mark has written an almanac of useful information, mostly a holiday gift guide, but some other useful advice too, like how to prevent a sneeze, how to leave papers for people, etc.  Go here to read the rest of his 2009 Gift Guide and Almanac.

Thank you for your attention.  End of Public Service Announcement.  🙂



6 Responses to “PSA: How to leave a telephone message”

  1. MarilyneL Says:

    Haha! that is so true, and sorry, I’m scared I’m one of those….I hate leaving messages so I kinda rush my sentences so it’s as short as possible:P

  2. taylor nikole Says:

    hmm i dont leave messages
    nor do i listen to the ones on my own phone

    haha my friend usually checks them for me
    and shes usuallIy upset that i have 40 or so messages on my voicemail LOL

    I just call back
    and then when they pick up
    they are usually like
    “did you get my message?”

    my response:
    “Nope sorry, so what were you saying”


    all i know is that my answering machine on my cell says
    “I’m exhausted, the phone’s too far… make it short and sweet”

    ohh gilmore girls… the good days 😀

  3. Jenipher Says:

    OMG I love Gilmore Taylor! 😀

    So true, this article’s GENIUS! That’s precisely why I haven’t bothered activating my voicemail in the first place. 🙂 And when I call, I don’t leave messages unless its my mom.

  4. taylor nikole Says:

    hehe people hate that i don’t leave messages
    im like
    you’re probably going to call me back anyways
    or all i want you to do is call me back
    and if your phone doesn’t tell you that you missed a call from me
    its retarded
    enough said 🙂

    hehe im horrible

  5. taylor nikole Says:

    ohh and the best though
    is when i actually answer the phone
    and what i say is usually
    not hello
    which makes it horrible i know
    and if its my grandma on the other line
    shes usually like
    “Thats nice…”

    but its like… theres this thing called caller id
    therefore i don’t need to question the hello

  6. Auntie Kailin Says:

    Mark Hurst? He’s the founder of Creative Good, which I used to get internet industry reports from back when I managed the website of a billion dollar corporation. Creative Good was right on. So, what does this have to do with GBD?

    Kathy? Besides having a pet peeve about bad voice messages?

    Well…I can go on and on and on…but you would have to attend one of my classes on Effective Communication.

    This also falls into the category of “Business Etiquette.”

    Girls – it’s official since I am that old and perhaps wiser, I will now call myself Auntie Kailin…it’s such an Asian tradition for the older woman to pass down wisdom to the younger woman. So, consider me Auntie Kailin 🙂

    Oops… if this was a voice mail message, I would have violated Uncle Mark’s rules. Oh well….writing is totally different, believe me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: