1. If your goal is to get the phone call returned, don’t leave information that would allow the person to make up their mind. Add a call-to-action to your message by providing a key date or something of interest that will encourage the person to return the call. You have to create a reason for them to call you back.
2. Repeat your phone number twice. If the person can’t quickly write your number down, you’ve given them a perfect reason to not call back.
3. Avoid asking ask the person to call you back at a certain time. This provides them with an excuse not to call you.
4. Never state in the message that you will plan to call them back. Again, this only gives the person an excuse to ignore your message.
5. Messages left on a Friday afternoon are the least likely to be returned. For most people, Monday mornings are very busy and, as a result, only high–priority activities will get their immediate attention.
6. Do not leave voicemail messages at odd hours of the night. Most voicemail systems offer a time stamp and the person hearing the message will immediately suspect you really did not want to talk to them.
7. The best hours to leave voicemail messages are from 6:45 AM to 8:00 AM and from 4:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Aggressive people are usually working during these time periods, and the person receiving your message could potentially view you as one.
8. Wisely use time zone changes to make as many calls as possible during the optimal voicemail periods listed in the previous tip.
9. Voicemail messages are an excellent way to introduce yourself to a person. Be personable, yet professional, and link your message to something of interest to the person you are calling (such as another person or event). The recipient may view your message as a waste of time if you have no purpose other than getting your name in front of them.
10. When leaving a message with multiple points, be sure to immediately disclose how many you will be making. This will prevent the recipient from accidentally fast-forwarding or deleting it before it is completely heard.
11. If you can’t say it briefly, don’t say it at all. Voicemail is not “story time”. Leaving a long message is an invitation to have the entire message skipped. The optimal voicemail message is between 8 and 14 seconds.
12. When leaving your phone number, do not leave your website address as well. This will give the person an opportunity to make a decision about you without calling you back.
13. Leave a “PS” at the end of your message. A “PS” is a very quick, additional piece of information that will connect with the person.
14. Mention the person’s first name at least twice in the message, but don’t use their last name. Doing so comes across as very impersonal.
15. Refer to a mutual acquaintance in your message as a way of connecting with the recipient. (Caution: Make sure they think positively of that person!).