How to Leave a Voicemail in 4 Simple Steps

Maddy Martin

You most likely have left personal voicemails in the past; whether it was calling your parents, a friend, or a sibling, there’s most certainly been a circumstance where you’ve made a call and weren’t able to reach the intended recipient. 

Leaving professional voicemail messages is similar to leaving personal ones, though understanding the different nuances is rather important for a professional setting. 

Below we discuss how to leave a voicemail, including tips and tricks for each step of the process, so you can be successful in your efforts of hearing back from your recipient and building relationships with potential customers.  

When to leave a professional voicemail 

There are many scenarios where leaving a professional voicemail is not only suggested but required. While a lot of communication can be done via email, some situations require the ease and effectiveness of a phone call. Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee that the recipient of your call will be available, and leaving a voicemail will help the recipient understand why you called. 

Below are just a few of the reasons why you would leave a voicemail in a professional setting:

While these certainly don’t encompass all of the reasons you’ll need to leave a professional voicemail, it does cover many of the recurring situations that will arise. 

Steps to take before leaving a voicemail 

what to do before leaving a voicemail

While you might think that leaving a professional voicemail is as effortless as leaving a personal voicemail, there are a few factors that can impact your delivery. Things like stress, miscommunication, and overall phone-call nervousness can turn a simple voicemail into a complicated message that your recipient will need to decipher. 

Before dialing the phone number of your recipient, there are a few things you can do to ensure a smooth process. 

Confirm the recipient’s phone number 

Before attempting to call your recipient, it’s wise to double-check the phone number that you are about to dial. This ensures that your call will go to the right person on the first try. Furthermore, it alleviates the inconvenience of calling the wrong number, both for you and the accidental recipient.  

Once you’ve confirmed the phone number is correct, also ensure that you have typed it into your cell or business phone correctly, as typos can easily happen. 

Quick tip: If you’ve been in contact with your recipient via email, they might have their direct number included in their signature. Otherwise, you can check their LinkedIn profile or company directory to confirm that you have the correct phone number.

Check the recipient’s time

Even if you know your intended recipient will not answer your phone call, it’s important to check the time that you are placing your call. For one, if you’re placing your call outside of traditional business hours, your recipient might find that offensive or unprofessional. 

In addition, it’s important to recognize that your recipient might be in a different time zone. While it might be an appropriate time for you to receive a professional call, it doesn’t mean that it’s the proper time for them to receive the call. 

Quick tip: If this is your first call to them, see if you can find additional time zone information on social media such as LinkedIn. If this is a subsequent call, consider having a conversation with them to see if they have a specific time (or range) that works best for them. 

Outline why you’re calling 

Knowing not only what you want to say but how you want to say it can greatly help you prepare for placing a call and leaving a voicemail. Since you cannot talk to the other person when leaving a message, it’s imperative that you state your reason for calling as simply and clearly as possible. 

To help with this process, consider writing down a few highlights as to why you are calling and what resolution you are looking for. If this is your first contact with this recipient, perhaps even jot down their name to ensure that you don’t fumble. 

Quick tip: Have a notepad close by to jot down the highlights of your call, and keep it close by your business phone for the return call. 

steps to leaving a professional voicemail

Steps to leaving a professional voicemail

Leaving a professional voicemail can be done in four simple steps. While it’s important to hit each step in the process, ensure that your overall voicemail length is less than a minute long to avoid overwhelming the recipient with too much information. 

Step 1. Start with an introduction 

Especially with a voicemail, the introduction is the first place to start. Since there’s no one to actively converse with, setting yourself up with a positive introduction can work wonders to not only set the tone for the call but also establish trust and positive communication. 

You can start your introduction by giving a salutation along with the recipient's name. Next, you will want to provide your name, your business’s name, and a good callback number for yourself. By providing this information right away, your recipient will know exactly who is contacting them and how to get in touch with you. 

Tips to perfect your introduction

When leaving an introduction, it’s best to be as clear as possible. Take time through this, as your recipient might miss the important information you’re providing. In addition, your tone sets the mood for the recipient. Imagine if you were listening to your voicemail back; do you sound friendly, agitated, or in a hurry? At the times you’re representing your company, this could either reflect well or negatively. 

An introduction example could look like this: 

“Good morning, Jamie. This is John Doe calling from XYZ Company. My phone number is 123-456-7890.” 

Step 2. Leave your message 

After your introduction, leave the bulk of your message. This states the reason for your call and what you’d like done as a result of your call. Remember that many voicemail systems have a limited amount of time for messages; in addition, too long of a message might come across as rambling to your recipient. 

Try to summarize your message in a few sentences, remembering that you’ll have the opportunity to elaborate on your points when they call you back. If you're finding it difficult to be concise, explain your general reason for calling and ask for a return call at their earliest convenience. 

In addition, you can also utilize a voicemail script to ensure that your message is coming across both clearly and succinctly.  

Tips to polish your message 

Remember that your message comes in two parts — the reason for your call and the anticipated result. The reason for your call should be fairly simple to state, but you might not have a clear resolution that you’d like to see. Consider the following next steps from the recipient:

  • Returning your call
  • Scheduling or confirming a meeting time
  • Having another team member call you
  • Sending an email

By stating what you’re looking for upfront, the recipient can gather information prior to calling you back to make the next conversation a productive one. An example of a message could look like this:

“I wanted to touch base with you to confirm our meeting on Tuesday, August 16 at 2:00 p.m. Would you mind calling me back at your earliest convenience to confirm that this date and time work for you?”

Step 3. Recap your information 

After you’ve provided the bulk of your message, you should recap your callback information for the recipient. Even though you’ve taken good care of providing this at the beginning of the call, it’s worth noting it again toward the end of the call as well. This will not only help your recipient remember who called but will also set a professional tone with your recipient and leave a long-lasting impression.  

Tips to refine your recap

Your recap does not have to be long and involved; in fact, it’s best if this is kept short and simple. As an example, you could say:

“Again, this is John Doe from XYZ company at 123-456-7890.” 

Step 4. Close the call

The very last step of your voicemail should be the closing. This should be professional in nature, but you can still add your own personal touch to it. Some examples of closings include:

  • Have a great day
  • Have a great weekend
  • Talk soon
  • I look forward to hearing from you

There’s no need to overthink the closing; keeping it professional and short is key to wrapping up your call. While you want to make sure you’re covering all of the steps above (including your closing), keeping your voicemail to 20-45 seconds is best. 

Tips to improve your closing

Try to refrain from saying “goodbye,” as you haven’t actually spoken to someone. In addition, remember that your voicemail sets the stage for your future interactions, so your friendly and professional tone should carry through your closing. 

Additional tips to leaving a good voicemail

Even though professional voicemails only last a few moments, they convey a significant amount of information to your recipient. In many cases, a voicemail can be your first impression to your recipient, so projecting a professional image is a must. Below are some additional tips for leaving an effective voicemail:

  • Avoid slang and abbreviations, even if you’re familiar with your recipient.
  • Remain kind and courteous, even if the call is regarding a serious matter.
  • If your call is urgent, you can follow up via email if necessary. Provide at least a few hours’ buffer between the call and email to allow the recipient to respond. 
  • Ensure that there is little or no background noise. 
  • Speak with a consistent speed that is not too quick or too slow.
  • Speak with an upbeat tone; your recipient can hear your smile over the phone.
  • Keep your voicemail brief; it should only be less than a minute long. 
  • If calling regarding a confidential matter, refrain from leaving details in your message. Instead, ask for a callback. 
  • If you are requesting a callback, state when you will be available to take the call. Don’t forget to mention your time zone if it’s different from your recipient’s.
  • Likewise, if you’re planning on calling the recipient back, mention this along with a time that they can expect your call. 

Try Smith.ai virtual receptionists 

Understanding how to leave a voicemail message is a key component in a professional setting. Our skilled virtual receptionists can take care of everything for you. When our receptionists call-back immediately, there’s a greater chance we connect with the lead right away and won’t even need to leave a voicemail. More often than not, you'll have to leave a voicemail if you wait too long to call someone back.

As an added touch, don’t forget to set up your business and personal phone with a voicemail greeting to welcome any voicemails that you receive. Don’t forget that you can also download voicemails directly to your phone to stay organized when the calls start coming in. 

To learn more about how our 24/7 professional receptionist can help you simplify your lead qualification process and land new business, schedule a free consultation.

Maddy Martin

Maddy Martin is Smith.ai's VP of Marketing. Over the last 15 years, Maddy has built her expertise and reputation in small-business communications, lead conversion, email marketing, partnerships, and SEO.

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