At some point in your professional life, you’re going to have to leave a voicemail. Actually, you’re going to have to leave tons and tons of voicemails. It’s a simple enough thing to do but a lot of people mess it up and leave long, rambling, pointless voicemails which do nothing more than alienate the person they’ve called. Here are a few tips to help you leave a professional voicemail that won’t make you look incompetent:
- Be brief, get to your point.
You’re not having a conversation with the person, you’re leaving a message. Dispense with any small talk or jokes. You want your entire message to be less than a minute, ideally closer to 30 seconds.
- State your name and who you are
Get right to who you are. State your name and who you are at the very beginning. Even if you’re leaving a message for a close friend, still identify yourself. Don’t say “It’s me”. The Prophet (saws) had a strong dislike for this way of identifying yourself.
Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra), that he went to see the Prophet (saws) for a debt that his father had left. He says: “I knocked at the door, and the Prophet (saws) said ‘Who is it?’ I replied: ‘It is me.’ He said ‘It is me! It is me!’ He sounded as though he disliked my reply.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
- Give context
Right after stating who you are, tell them why you’re calling. Still keep it brief, but let them know the purpose of this call.
- Tell them what you want from them
Do they need to call you back? Do they need to do something? Is this just an FYI voicemail? Let them know (briefly!) what it is you want from them. Don’t just tell them “Hey, this is Ali. Call me back.” You’re making a request, you need to give some detail so they know why they should do what you’re asking.
- Let them know how to reach you
Most people are going to have your number on their cell phone from the missed call but still verbally relay it to them. State your number, then state it again (slowly both times). If you want, also leave your email. Be smart though, if whatever you need from them isn’t amenable to discussion via email, there’s no point in giving them your email address.
“Salaam Sh. Muhammad, this is Ali from the Islamic Center you’re scheduled to visit next week. I’m calling to discuss your speaking schedule so that we have everything in order for your trip. Please call me back at your convenience so that we can get the schedule finalized and posted in the masjid. My number is 555-432-2934. Again, that’s 555-432-2934. I look forward to speaking with you. Salaam.”