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Make Voicemail a Production

Make Voicemail a Production

This is the first in a series I’ll be posting. The goal: equip you to be a superhero.

You probably don’t think of it this way, but voicemail is a production. It’s a little radio show. It’s meant to convey information, and you must keep the audience (of one) in mind. Here are some thoughts on hacking voicemail into something useful that will improve the effectiveness of your messages.

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Jot it Down First– It sounds stupid to write notes for a voicemail, but how many times have you heard a whole lot of “um” and “uhhh” and filler words while listening to voicemail. Jot down your points, and put your most important points first. And do a precis- Before you go in deep, give the main topic(s) you’ll cover as a quick bullet. THEN, you can go in.

Start With Identification– First, identify who you’ve called. “Hi, Rich. This is Chris Brogan.” Why? Because it tells the person you called that you know WHO you called. It also gives them time to get a pen, to calibrate. Second, give YOUR name clearly, and if the person doesn’t know you very well, give them your phone number slowly for callback. Right off the bat. Why? Because some people don’t listen to the whole message (I rarely do, especially if it lingers).

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Be a Journalist and Lead StrongLike I said about the precis, give your lead bullet point(s) first. “Hi, Rich. This is Chris Brogan. I’m calling to talk about the Videoblogging strategy for our team. Frankly, we need to change out the talent.” That’s a strong lead. It says what I’m calling for, and what action I want to take. THEN, I can give the supporting info. If your message is simpler, like setting up a meeting, perfect. Be brief. “Hi, Rich. This is Chris Brogan. Call me back at 631.612.8945. I’m making sure we’re good for 1PM on Tuesday for our conference call. I’ll be calling you.”

Finish Strong– When you close your voicemail, end with a “call to action.” Unless your voicemail is just a report on something (“Wow, Rich. That meeting stunk. Natalie wanted all our numbers, and we had nothing!”), end with whatever action you need next. And try for something more than “call me back.” If you can, make it something the person can do. “Rich, could you give me your best guess on one or two replacements for Kari. We need an on-screen talent that really drives the team relationship. Call me before Thursday, and we’ll get that on the agenda.”

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Your Take– What are the tips I missed? Help me tidy up this post and make it useful to your fellow lifehack readers. And if you want, leave me a voicemail about it.

Chris Brogan is co-Founder of PodCamp (next one’s in Stockholm in June), and he blogs at [chrisbrogan.com]. If you use Twitter, add him.

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

5 Smart Reasons to Start Journal Writing Today

Here’s the truth: your effectiveness at life is not what it could be. You’re missing out.

Each day passes by and you have nothing to prove that it even happened. Did you achieve something? Go on a date? Have an emotional breakthrough? Who knows?

But what you do know is that you don’t want to make the same mistakes that you’ve made in the past.

Our lives are full of hidden gems of knowledge and insight, and the most recent events in our lives contain the most useful gems of all. Do you know why? It’s simple, those hidden lessons are the most up to date, meaning they have the largest impact on what we’re doing right now.

But the question is, how do you get those lessons? There’s a simple way to do it, and it doesn’t involve time machines:

Journal writing.

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Improved mental clarity, the ability to see our lives in the big picture, as well as serving as a piece of evidence cataloguing every success we’ve ever had; we are provided all of the above and more by doing some journal writing.

Journal writing is a useful and flexible tool to help shed light on achieving your goals.

Here’s 5 smart reasons why you should do journal writing:

1. Journals Help You Have a Better Connection with Your Values, Emotions, and Goals

By journaling about what you believe in, why you believe it, how you feel, and what your goals are, you understand your relationships with these things better. This is because you must sort through the mental clutter and provide details on why you do what you do and feel what you feel.

Consider this:

Perhaps you’ve spent the last year or so working at a job you don’t like. It would be easy to just suck it up and keep working with your head down, going on as if it’s supposed to be normal to not like your job. Nobody else is complaining, so why should you, right?

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But a little journal writing will set things straight for you. You don’t like your job. You feel like it’s robbing you of happiness and satisfaction, and you don’t see yourself better there in the future.

The other workers? Maybe they don’t know, maybe they don’t care. But you do, you know and care enough to do something about it. And you’re capable of fixing this problem because your journal writing allows you to finally be honest with yourself about it.

2. Journals Improve Mental Clarity and Help Improve Your Focus

If there’s one thing journal writing is good for, it’s clearing the mental clutter.

How does it work? Simply, whenever you have a problem and write about it in a journal, you transfer the problem from your head to the paper. This empties the mind, allowing allocation of precious resources to problem-solving rather than problem-storing.

Let’s say you’ve been juggling several tasks at work. You’ve got data entry, testing, e-mails, problems with the boss, and so on—enough to overwhelm you—but as you start journal writing, things become clearer and easier to understand: Data entry can actually wait till Thursday; Bill kindly offered earlier to do my testing; For e-mails, I can check them now; the boss is just upset because Becky called in sick, etc.

You become better able to focus and reason your tasks out, and this is an indispensable and useful skill to have.

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3. Journals Improve Insight and Understanding

As a positive consequence of improving your mental clarity, you become more open to insights you may have missed before. As you write your notes out, you’re essentially having a dialogue with yourself. This draws out insights that you would have missed otherwise; it’s almost as if two people are working together to better understand each other. This kind of insight is only available to the person who has taken the time to connect with and understand themselves in the form of writing.

Once you’ve gotten a few entries written down, new insights can be gleaned from reading over them. What themes do you see in your life? Do you keep switching goals halfway through? Are you constantly dating the same type of people who aren’t good for you? Have you slowly but surely pushed people out of your life for fear of being hurt?

All of these questions can be answered by simply self-reflecting, but you can only discover the answers if you’ve captured them in writing. These questions are going to be tough to answer without a journal of your actions and experiences.

4. Journals Track Your Overall Development

Life happens, and it can happen fast. Sometimes we don’t take the time to stop and look around at what’s happening to us at each moment. We don’t get to see the step-by-step progress that we’re making in our own lives. So what happens? One day it’s the future, and you have no idea how you’ve gotten there.

Journal writing allows you to see how you’ve changed over time, so you can see where you did things right, and you can see where you took a misstep and fell.

The great thing about journals is that you’ll know what that misstep was, and you can make sure it doesn’t happen again—all because you made sure to log it, allowing yourself to learn from your mistakes.

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5. Journals Facilitate Personal Growth

The best thing about journal writing is that no matter what you end up writing about, it’s hard to not grow from it. You can’t just look at a past entry in which you acted shamefully and say “that was dumb, anyway!” No, we say “I will never make a dumb choice like that again!”

It’s impossible not to grow when it comes to journal writing. That’s what makes journal writing such a powerful tool, whether it’s about achieving goals, becoming a better person, or just general personal-development. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

Kickstart Journaling

How can journaling best be of use to you? To vent your emotions? To help achieve your goals? To help clear your mind? What do you think makes journaling such a useful life skill?

Know the answer? Then it’s about time you reap the benefits of journal writing and start putting pen to paper.

Here’s what you can do to start journaling:

Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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