[On] Point to Ponder: Voice Message = Brand Message

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Last week, my colleague Sam said, “By the way, you leave the best voicemails. You should teach people how to do that better.”

Here goes.

Voicemail is branding – personal branding. When you call to leave a voicemail, you’re either maximizing or squandering that branding opportunity.

Voicemail: To Leave, or Not to Leave?


Why I Chose to Leave Sam a Voicemail
In unique circumstances, voicemail makes sense. I’d traded e-mails with Sam on something time sensitive. He was helping me network for a job-seeking friend. The deadline was looming. I sat down to type an email, but it quickly became cumbersome. I needed to communicate some details. I needed his reactions right then. I also wanted him to genuinely know I appreciated his time. So I switched gears.

But Don’t People Hate Voicemail?

I know what you’re thinking. People hate voicemails. They’re too long. They don’t listen to them (really?). Voicemail is a dinosaur. Here’s why I disagree (and why I don’t hate voicemail).

  1. Oftentimes people don’t read e-mails either. This is wasteful too. You end up explaining again, or being misunderstood and now you’re off on an unwanted path.
  2. Not listening to a voicemail is unprofessional. If you leave good voicemails people will not only listen, they’ll respond. They may learn to leave good voicemails too.
  3. As with all communication, know your Audience. Leave voicemails for the right people. With the right words in the message.
  4. Know your Context (or Occasion). Leave voicemails for the right reasons.

Why are Voicemails Often Better?

  1. You can convey tone. The recipient hears your genuine-ness. Or Gratitude. Urgency. Concern. Authenticity.
  2. As a result, voicemails allow you to build relationship and stay connected. It’s true. When someone hears the sound of your voice, they feel more connected to you personally. You become more memorable.
  3. You can coach yourself! Are you working on becoming a better communicator? Use the “listen and re-record” function. End your voicemail and play it back. Do you sound confident? Do you have a lot of fillers? Are your points clear or are you rambling? Is your cell in a dead zone and they’re going to miss half a sentence? You get a do-over with voicemail.

Back to my job-seeking friend. Sam offered to help me find a connection for her, but there were loose ends to tie up. I picked up the phone. It was just going to be faster to talk to Sam. So I called.

How to Leave an “On Point” Voicemail:

  1. This is obvious – identify. “Hi Sam, Cindy Skalicky calling.”
  2. Give a preview. I said something like, “Just 3 quick points and let’s circle back soon.”
  3. Leave power-packed points. “First, I saw your e-mail. Thank you so much for offering to reach out to your contact at the city. Second, I’m going to e-mail you a revised cover letter and resume from my friend by the end of the day.And third, my friend’s situation is unique because…(explain briefly).”
  4. Close fast. “Thanks, Sam, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your time on this. Call or text me at this number any time today, after 4:00 is best.”

Share this with your network. Help others leave better voicemails. Leave a comment with your feedback and happy voicemail-ing!

Photo by Ruth Bruhn

Cindy provides public speaking coaching and brand consulting to entrepreneurs and small businesses who seek to master their message on stage, online and in publications. Her passion for crafting, analyzing and presenting messages developed through over 25 years in the corporate, academic and entrepreneurial worlds. Cindy coaches clients on pitch decks, TED talks, storytelling, presentation presence, brand messaging, PR strategy and more. Contact Cindy at info@onpoint-communications.com or visit www.onpoint-communications.com


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“Last year, I reached out to Cindy to help me with a sales deck I use frequently. I learned how to personalize my presentation in an authentic and informative way, making it more interesting to deliver and for my audience to observe!  Cindy was professional, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable and her suggestions were spot on.  If you want to enhance your communication skills, gain confidence in speaking, and improve overall delivery, I definitely recommend working with On Point!”

Nicole Steed, Global Account Manager | Helms Briscoe

“Cindy was truly instrumental in getting a compelling, professional pitch deck put together. Without her structure and guidance on how to tell a compelling story, I know we wouldn’t have had nearly the success and traction that we have. I look forward to continuing to work with Cindy and making our pitch evolve alongside our business.”

Jennifer Henderson| CEO at Career Allies

“Cindy, Your coaching was fantastic. You are so good at this. I have done a lot of this too, but I am in awe of your approach, the simplicity of your suggestions and your general professionalism. Thank you.”

Susan Strong, Director at SAGE Boulder

“Cindy, I’m in your Career Thought Leaders Conference session right now and you’re absolutely delivering on what you promised when we first met! I’m so excited to keep making progress in developing my brand story.”

Mashaal Ahmed|DC Career Coach

“The On Point ‘Investor Pitch as Story’ online course was a great fit because of my heavy travel schedule. It gave me flexibility as a student to learn and connect with Cindy as necessary. The videos and homework helped me to prepare strong, compelling presentations for potential customers (coaches, directors, school districts) and becoming investor ready.”

Justin Fleming | CEO at MyPerforma