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How to Reduce Voicemail Phone Tag

Leave fast, efficient, productive voicemail by following the seven rules of voicemail.

By
Stever Robbins
3-minute read
Episode #35

Today's topic is Voicemail. The quick and dirty tip is…Well, I have seven of them.


She sounded so happy! She sounded so delighted to reach my voicemail! "Stever, tag, you're it! Couldn't reach you, so I'm hoping you'll call me back. Have a great day!" She sounds friendly, too. She's even waiting for me to return her call. Unfortunately, I have no idea who she is!

Behind e-mail, voicemail is a favorite way to leave someone a message without the inconvenience of actually talking to them. It's great for those awkward conversations. "Hey, Billy, loved the artwork. We can't use it, but thanks for the three weeks of free work." or "It's been a great relationship, but I've met someone who'll support me //and// do the dishes. Toodles!"

But if you're going to break up with someone via voicemail, remember to leave your name! Please don't be so self-centered to believe they'll know who it is. You've been cheating, maybe your sweetie has, too. If you don't leave your name, you might put your sweetie in the awkward position of not knowing which of you is breaking up.

Take mercy on your sweetie, and on everyone else call, for that matter, by following Stever's Seven Rules of Voicemail.

  1. Always leave your full name. Stever Robbins. I can't say this enough. Leave your full name. They'll recognize my voice. No, they won't. Leave your full name. But I'm leaving my message for my parents. That's nice. Leave your full name. It's good practice. Your parents agonized over that name. They fought over it. They almost divorced while debating Filligan versus Dormalia. And your middle name? Don't even get me started. Just leave your full name.
  2. Always leave your phone number twice. 866-WRK-LESS. Once at the beginning and once at the end. But they have my phone number, you cry! No, they don't, not with them. But we talk every day! Yes, and they don't have your phone number. Not in front of their eyes. Just leave it. Leave it at the beginning of the message and the end. If they miss it the first time, they'll have a second chance. And whether their voicemail has "rewind 10 seconds" or "replay from start," they'll //quickly// be able to get right to the number with only a couple of key presses. 866-WRK-LESS.
  3. Speak slowly and clearly. Your brain screens out traffic, conversations, and wind while you leave a message. You hear the dulcet strains of your own voice, while the voicemail system hears static, wind, the occasional siren, and that truly disgusting belch you expelled without a second thought. Oh, yeah, and your cell phone is cutting out while you leave the message. Speak to them ... like ... they're ... a ... child. They'll understand you and you'll get the fun of activating your parental instincts without the fuss of actually changing your friend's diapers.

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.