To record the outgoing message takes skill, as one tries to strike that fine line between “Friendly and happy to hear from you” and “Telemarketers need not leave a message, or I will hunt you down and talk to you about insurance premiums while you’re trying to eat dinner.” It’s a delicate balance, and one I have yet to achieve.
My sister has a lovely outgoing recording. “If you’re looking for Kim, you’ve found her! Leave a message.” Fun, short . . . but a little too telemarketer-encouraging, if you ask me. Plus, I don’t want anyone to leave a message. That might make me feel guilty when I don’t call back.
On the other end is the ultra-professional message. (Someone in my household has this type of greeting, and it’s not me, but I’ll say no more.) “You have reached John Doe. I am unavailable at the moment. Please leave a message and I will respond accordingly in due time.” This is a little too standoffish and condescending to me. Plus, again, why are you telling people to leave a message?
There’s always the pre-loaded automated greeting, in which a robot tells the caller that they’ve reached 800-555-1212, and that no one is available to take their call. Tempting, but I like to have verification that I’ve actually called the right person. I have no less than 12 Kathys in my contact list, and I depend on being able to recognize their voice in their message to tell me what type of message to leave. (Kathy T: “Hey, it’s me! Give me a call, and in the meantime, give Miss Hannah-Banana a hug for me!” as opposed to Kathy B: “Hello, it’s Stacey. I just emailed you back that contract you submitted for editing.” Could get tricky.)
Back in college, my roommates and I perfected the art of the outgoing message. I can still remember all the words of our message, sung to the Brady Bunch tune: “Here’s the story/of a girl named Stacey/living with Heather, Deb and Dee/None of them are at home, what a bummer/they'll call you back, you'll see . . .” I won’t go on, but it was long, obnoxious, and irritating. We thought we were hilarious. Someone had to really want to talk to us to sit through that off-tune stinker.
Hmm. You know, I think we were on to something.
Many thanks to my colleague Rob, who, when I said “I need a blog idea! Help!” shot off a few misfires (“Seasonal footwear? The versatility of toast?”) did stumble upon “Leaving the proper outgoing message?” Thanks.