Behind the message – a look into the underbelly of voicemail

31 May 2007

What would we do in a world without voicemail? So much important information is communicated ‘after the tone’. Technology has come a long way since the days of the original answering machine, which featured a miniature blank cassette housed in a box the size of a cinderblock. Personally, it’s taken years of practice to not be nervous when leaving an answering machine message. You’re leaving vocal footprint and you better be ready when that tone sounds. 

Everyone has their own code of conduct for leaving a message – for me the golden rule is to keep the message under 30-seconds. Anything over the half-minute mark verges on inappropriate. I challenge you, the reader, to find a colleague who enjoys listening to someone ramble on for over 30-seconds about who knows what on a voicemail message. We’re always told in the PR business to write in clear and concise sentences, well in my opinion there is no reason this shouldn’t extend into the realm of voicemail. I’m not saying that we should speak in robotic bullet points on a voicemail message, but the less “um’s and ahh’s”, the better.   

I love almost everything about voicemail. To me checking for messages never gets old. However, one of the most awkward things to do in my opinion is creating an outgoing message while in an open-air cubicle. Creating the perfect outgoing message while colleagues can listen in is a lot like going to the bathroom with the door open.

I still haven’t reached my goal of creating the perfect outgoing message. You know the one where everyone wants to call your number and hopes you don’t pick-up just so they can listen to it. However with a little talent, some perseverance and a lot of heart, I know it’s possible. Until this happens, I’ll keep my feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.  


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