How to Leave an Appropriate Phone Message

Ever wish there was an erase button for phone messages? Hear the beep, and forget everything you were going to say? Have you then ended up rambling on and on? This article is to help you leave an effective message.


Before you pick up the phone, plan out what you’re going to say.

It may take a few minutes, but don’t skip it. You won’t believe the difference it makes.

Check over your plan and make sure you’ve included your name, the name of the person you’re calling for (if it’s a shared line), the reason for calling, the time you called, what time the receiver should call you back (not needed in some messages), and your phone number (if you want them to call you back).

Be friendly, polite, and succinct, and make sure you get right to the point.

If it helps, say your message out loud before you make the call.

If you don’t like the way it sounds, you can always change it.

Pick up the phone, take a deep breath, and dial the number.

Make sure there isn’t any background noise (turn off music, any loud appliances, etc.).

Be prepared for someone to pick up.

You can still follow the outline of your message if it helps.

If you get the answering machine, wait for the beep, and then say your message.

Make sure you don’t whisper, ramble, pause unnecessarily, or add words like uh, you know, um, like… you get it. Don’t scream, but speak loudly and clearly, and enunciate. Remember the overall impression that you leave with your message. Your tone can be very important, the reaction of who you called may vary depending on your tone of voice. Such as: If you sound sad, the person may not call you back or will call back being sympathetic or even prying to find what was wrong. This can be annoying, especially if nothing was wrong. Try to sound as normal as possible.

Say a proper goodbye or have a good ending to your message.

At the end of your message, consider adding something along the lines of “Hope to see you soon,” or “Have a great day.”


  • Smile- it’ll show in your voice.
  • Which number should the receiver call you back on? This is important and should not be skipped. Although most home phones (and mobile phones) have caller ID, assume that this person does not (even if they do). Even if they do, the odds are high that they may not be able to check the caller ID immediately, so just leave a callback number. Make sure you leave it twice. Once when you are giving the message, and if you were already ending the message with a callback number, repeat it to make sure that the receiver is able to remember the number well. Say something like “Call me on (123) 456-7890, again if you didn’t catch that it was (123) 456-7890.”
  • Start by saying who you are. If you leave a good message, except for who you are there can be a lot of guesswork involved, which the receiver may not like. Something good to start with is (for instance) “Hey Chris, this is Randi,…”


  • Stay on topic
  • But don’t rush your message either
  • Try not to say any slang or words that will make your message sound sloppy or hard to understand.
  • Don’t ramble or pause for too long

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