Outgoing Message by Judith Ann Kirk
The purpose of an outgoing voice mail message is to let callers know they reached your answering system, give them an opportunity to leave a message, and take advantage of setting the tone for a great first impression. How do you get callers to leave a relevant and easily understood message? Simple! Educate them through your announcement. Here are the top ten tips to help you create an effective outgoing message.
- Be brief. No one wants to listen to a long list of instructions, new-age guitar music, or children’s giggles. The outgoing message should be short and to the point, no more than 20 seconds.
- Do not waste words and precious seconds by stating that the caller has reached the desk or office of so and so. Simply state who you are and what you do. “You have reached the voice mail of ___your name___, principal of ___your school__.”
- You do not need to tell the caller that you are out of the office or away from your desk or cannot answer the phone right now. It is quite possible they figured that out on their own. If necessary, you may offer dates and times when you will be available if the caller wants to try to call you again.
- If you are going to be away or unavailable for a period of time, simply state, “I am out of my office and will return on ___specific date___.”
- Use your own voice to record your outgoing message. It will confuse callers if they are expecting you to answer and hear a different voice. They may even hang up believing they reached the wrong number.
- Be an effective communicator by telling the caller what to do. If specific details are important to you, then list what information you need. If you want their name and phone number, then say so. If you want them to state the purpose of the call, then tell them that. You may even ask them to leave a date and time that is convenient to receive calls.
- Do not promise to return every call “as soon as possible.” This only adds an unnecessary layer of pressure to your day and generates stress for the caller if you do not return the call within 20 minutes.
- First impressions are lasting. So, sit up straight and put on a smile while recording your announcement. It is best to record in absolute silence. Background noise is annoying.
- Write out your message and practice several times to avoid a robotic voice. A common mistake that leads to an ineffective outgoing message is the failure to listen to what you recorded. Every time you change your message, analyze it. Do you sound enthusiastic or bored? Did you include pertinent information? If you are not satisfied, simply re-record. Paying attention to these details can make a big difference with first impressions.
- Add value and build positive PR. Consider changing your voice mail greeting every day or every week. You want people to know that you are on top of your messages and that their message is important to you. Including your slogan or tag line is a great way to build brand awareness. You may choose to offer a special opportunity for meeting with you, invite them to log onto your website, or encourage them to subscribe to your principal’s newsletter. A personalized message is better received than a generic “leave a message after the beep.”
Most people are unhappy when they reach voice mail, but it is impossible to answer your phone every minute of the day. Make that outgoing message work for you. Ask yourself what differentiates you from others in your field. Let your voice and message illuminate the positives.
© Judith Ann Kirk is a clutter clearing specialist with over 16 years experience as a Professional Organizer. Getting organized with paper, possessions and thoughts, eliminates clutter, chaos and confusion and leads to a stress-free life with more time, money, energy and breathing space. Clearing Clutter is a resource of tips, techniques and life management skills that will lighten your load and simplify your life.
For more suggestions related to designing your professional presence for success, you will want to access the Get a Plan! Guide® to Deliberately Designing Your Professional Presence, which is part of the Get a Plan! Guides® series. The Get a Plan! Guide® series will give you the ideas and inspiration to do your work easier, faster, and in a more focused fashion – so that you can accomplish your goals more smoothly, i.e., peacefully, productively, and predictably.