Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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).

Advertising

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.”

Advertising

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.

Advertising

More by this author

7 Uses for a Virtual Machine When Emailing Think Press Release Mail, BrainDump, Mail, Do Stretch Goals Matter You Had me at Insane

Trending in Communication

1The Gentle Art of Saying No 217 Ted Talks for Kids to Inspire Little Minds to Do Big Things 310 Toxic Persons You Should Just Get Rid Of 4Striving Towards Secure Attachment: How to Restructure Your Thoughts 5Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

Advertising

But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

Advertising

What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

Advertising

But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Advertising

Read Next