I am not always available to answer my mobile phone. I’m either in a meeting or training session or driving and on rare occasions I forget switch the ringer back on and it just happens not to be in my pocket.

On those occasions I cannot give attention to a call, I’ve “asked” voicemail to take messages for me… Somehow, the “subconscious me” feels if someone can’t get a hold of me, leaving a voice message says, “it’s important we connect” etc.

Sometimes leaving a voicemail may be the only opportunity for you or the sender to communicate something urgent before they’re also unavailable. The point of leaving voice messages is to at least communicate something.

Communication has not happened if I haven’t received the message as intended by the sender. Here are a few pointers that may sound “little” but I think can help us in leaving better voice messages. Here’s how you can work on getting voicemail right


If you are going to leave a voice message, it is more favorable to try and do it from an area with minimal noise. Chances are high that the receiver of your message may listen to your voice mail in a similar, noisy environment and ends up adding “double noise”.

The other side of it is to listen to your messages in a place with little noise, if any. Somehow background noises seems to be amplified when they’re recorded. So, one of the things to do is when leaving a voicemail take note of the noise in your surroundings.

Speech Sound & Speed

I have a great privilege of working with diverse people. I’m in a country with eleven official languages & love it! As much as I enjoy and love diversity, it does have some challenges at times.

One of them is accent. This may be a result of them not speaking the language I normally use as their first language. The best way to go around this may be to speak a little slower, and take extra care or even “mouth out” the words.

Something else to pay attention to is the speed at which you speak when you leave a message. People somehow speak faster when leaving a voice message, either to save credit on their call or because they’re leaving a message with a machine.

Don’t forget that the message is ultimately intended for a human not a droid. I normally make it a point to speak slower when I leave a message. It helps clarity as it reduces chances of me stumbling over words.


Avoid leaving a voice message while running! Chances are very high that the clearest thing in your message may only be your heavy breathing. Don’t be that guy who just breathes heavily into the phone…

The Point

If you can help it, don’t leave a lengthy message. Be concise! I know people who stop listening to messages when they feel they’re taking long. Worse if they are coupled with lots of noise. Sometimes simply asking the receiver to call you back may be the best route to take. Just get to the point.

Don’t try to narrate everything if the purpose of your call was to give an account of something.

Also, don’t start having the “conversation” you wanted to have with the person, except it will be one-sided. That is called a monologue. There’s a fine line between a monologue and leaving a voice message.

Leaving Numbers 

When leaving my phone number, I say it slowly. I open my mouth a little more, to avoid the receiver hearing a number different from the one I said. I also say my number twice, so the receiver doesn’t have to listen to my message repeatedly to get my number properly.

Frankly, I find it annoying to listen to a lengthy message and then have to do  it again just to get the number at the end of it. Try not to annoy someone just before they call you back!

What have been some of your terrible experiences with voicemail? What would you add to the list?

Published by Blessing Mpofu

just a guy changing the world

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