Phone Message and Voicemail Etiquette

Have you ever received a voicemail where you had no idea why the person was calling, who they were, or what they wanted? Have you ever left a message in which you didn’t leave your name or the reason you called? These things happen, which is why it’s important to brush up on our voicemail etiquette to ensure we’re communicating as effectively as possible.

Learn more about voicemail etiquette, including how to leave an effective voicemail, how to record a voicemail greeting, and how to take phone messages for missed calls.


Voicemail Etiquette: Leaving a Message

Proper phone message etiquette is essential to effective communication. It’s important to identify who you are, the business you represent, why you are calling, and how the person or business can contact you.

Clarity is the name of the game when it comes to leaving voicemails. Don’t overburden the message with too much information, and clearly explain who you are and how you can be reached.

When leaving important information, such as a phone number or email where you can be reached, speak slowly, and enunciate. You may even choose to repeat yourself at the end of the message so that the other person can confirm they transcribed your details correctly.

When leaving a voicemail, say:

  • Your name
  • Your business (and your role, if relevant to the message)
  • The purpose of your call
  • Any action items or deadlines they should be aware of
  • Your contact information
  • The ideal way to contact you (method/time of day)

For example, when Larry leaves a voicemail, she might say:

“Hello—This is Larry, Chief Happiness Officer at Blue Summit Supplies. I’m calling to learn more about the team building opportunities your business provides. We are interested and would like to know more about your prices and availability this month. You can reach me by phone at (123) 456-7890. That’s (123) 456-7890. I am available Monday to Friday, ideally in the afternoon. Looking forward to hearing from you.”

The voicemail message clearly states who is calling, the reason for the call, and includes details that will help the person calling back prepare. Knowing that Larry is looking for event availability this month and is interested in pricing will allow the person who calls back to gather the necessary information to make the next call a success. The message also includes a phone number and states when the best time to call is.


Voicemail Etiquette: Personal Voicemail Greeting

When it comes to your own voicemail, it’s important to politely and clearly explain who the caller has reached and when they can expect to hear back from you.

  • Always try to answer the call if you’re available
  • Check your voicemail messages frequently
  • Let callers know when you are most likely to return their call
  • Include hours of operation, if applicable
  • Include the phone number of a coworker if you will be away from the office for a lengthy period of time so that the caller can still reach someone if they have a pressing question or concern.
  • Update your personal greeting regularly to provide the caller with up-to-date information about your schedule.

What you say in your recorded voicemail message depends on your industry and the type of service you provide. You should always include your name and business name as well as how you can best be contacted.

When recording a personal voicemail, include:

  • Your name
  • Your business and your role
  • Your hours of operation (if relevant to the business)
  • How you can best be reached (phone, email, etc.)
  • When the best time to reach you is
  • How soon they can expect a response back
  • Who else they can reach out to within your company (if you are away or out of the office for a prolonged period of time)

For example, a Blue Summit Supplies voicemail might sound like this:

“Thank you for calling Blue Summit Supplies. You have reached the desk of Larry, Chief Happiness Officer. Our hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm CST. If you have reached us after hours, please leave your name, your number, and a detailed message. Your call will be returned on the morning of the following business day. If you need to reach someone urgently, please call our customer service line at Call Customer Service at (888) 342-4274.”

This message provides the caller with everything they need to proceed. The caller knows who they have reached and when they can expect a call back. They are also given details about what to leave in the message and hours of operation to help them call back successfully next time. Lastly, the caller is given an emergency option for how to reach someone else right away via customer service.


larry says

Do you get nervous answering or making phone calls? I’m not a fan of phone calls either! 🐾 Read our guide to How to Overcome Phone Phobia at Work, which includes tips to ease your nerves.


How to Take a Telephone Message

Taking a massage for someone else who missed a call? Make sure you get enough details from the caller so that the person who missed the call can call back prepared.

If you are taking a message for someone else, it’s important you ask who they are, who they work for, why they are calling, and how they can be reached. If the person calling is resistant to leaving their information or explaining why they called, politely explain why you need the information and how it will help the person they are trying to reach get back to them in a timely manner.

If you’re worried you’ll forget to ask an important question, create a how to take a phone message worksheet that you can follow.

While You Were Out Template:

  • Who’s calling?
  • From where?
  • What is this call regarding?
  • Are they expecting a call from you?
  • How can they reach you?
  • What’s the best time to reach you?

Make sure the person you took the message for actually receives the note about the message. These types of notes can often get lost in the office when there aren’t clear protocols for how to take a While You Were Out message.

If you know the other person isn’t going to be back in the office for a while, such as if a colleague is on a business trip, on vacation, or out sick, you could leave the message details in Slack or an email to ensure the notes you took down don’t get lost. If the message is urgent, it also allows your colleague to access the message before they physically return to the workplace.


Message-Taking Resources

Message-taking books, memo pads, and templates set clear guidelines about what to ask when taking a message. These convenient tools help ensure everyone in the workplace follows the same protocols and records messages accurately.

Message Book

Telephone Message Books

A phone call message book is best utilized in a reception or common area where an admin assistant or multiple employees may need to answer the phone and take messages for other people.

Phone message books are filled with multiple message-taking sections that can be filled out as calls come through. There are often multiple entries per page, and depending on the type of book, you may have 2-part carbonless copies to make multiple copies of the message at one time.


Telephone Message Pad

Telephone Message Pad

Telephone message pads are similar options for taking down messages. These come in pre-printed notepads instead of a book. The notepad helps message takers jot down important information, including who called, the time of the call, what the message is, and whether or not the message is urgent.


While You Were Out Printable 

Want to print your own?

We created a printable While You Were Out template that you can download for free. You can print as many of these While You Were Out message sheets as you need.

Click here to download our free while you were out printable!



More From Blue Summit Supplies

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💡 7 Actionable Strategies for Better Communication in the Workplace

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Jordan's passion for travel led her to design a career as a remote content marketer. Nearing 1000 published articles, she's spent the past decade using her interdisciplinary education to research and write content for a wide variety of industries. Working remotely, Jordan spends half of the year exploring different corners of the world. At home, she's content exploring fictional lands—Spark an immediate and detailed conversation by mentioning Game of Thrones, Red Rising, Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings.

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