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Your complete guide to voicemail perfection, as told in pictures

March 3, 2014

I want you to shine.

happy baby

Photo: George Keith (CC)

In order to shine, you must stop tripping over voicemail.

skinned knee

Photo: Ray Bouknight (CC)

We’ve had this technology for some 30 years. Let’s use it to make the best initial impression we can with strangers and friends alike.


Photo: Yorick_R (CC)

Don’t greet people with a cold generic greeting. (I’m still surprised when professionals can’t spare 20 seconds to customize their voicemail service.) Smile, and record a welcoming message.


Don’t let your name be “Mailbox 7046.” Record your name at the correct prompt.

Photo: Roberta Romero (CC)

Photo: Roberta Romero (CC)

(You might have to dig through your desk or the Internet to find the voicemail manual for your system. Horror of horrors, having to read to understand technology better.)

IKEA instructions

Photo: Sean Hobson (CC)

Don’t turn away important messages and potential sales with a full mailbox. Empty it out now.

full mailbox

Photo: Michael Coghlan (CC)

(Or if you want a free alternative, use Google Voice, which does not have voicemail storage limits. This service allows you to forward calls smartly, create custom greetings for different callers and send transcribed messages yo you via texts or email.

Having Google Voice means seeing messages from clients quietly while still in meetings.)

Don’t ignore voicemails. It’s unprofessional. Respond in a timely fashion.

covered ears

Photo: Melissa Gutierrez (CC)

And when calling: Don’t skip leaving a message. Tell me your name, your number and why you called — I promise I’ll always return your call promptly.

blank note

Photo: Charlene McBride (CC)

Call your voicemail today. Listen to your greeting. Leave a message. If you have an unpleasant experience, fix it for your callers.


Photo: Seongbin Im (CC)

Shine with good communication, even at the most basic level. Even with plain old voicemail.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2014 11:02 am

    Great advice. I really have the greetings that start, “Hi. You have reached the voice mailbox of [phone number]…” It pains me.

    T-Mobile has a voicemail-to-text function/app that I will try eventually.

    • March 11, 2014 11:09 am

      My favorite voicemail joke from “King of the Hill” is hearing Peggy’s greeting:

      “The number you have dialed — (Peggy’s voice) ‘Hi, this is Peggy Hill. I’m not here to answer the phone, but please leave a message’ — is not available.”


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