4 Steps to a Great Vacation Message

June 11, 2016
Mary Jane Copps

Beautiful girl swim with rubber circle

It’s coming! Even though here on the Atlantic coast we’ve seen more fog and cloud than sun, we know that summer is on it’s way, bringing well-deserved vacation time and …voice mail vacation messages.

In the excitement of summer vacation – or really any vacation – people become, well, thought-less. This can leave customers and prospects stranded while we are away and create misunderstandings and missteps that add to our workload the moment we return.

While it’s true that there’s nothing like that last day of work before a holiday – the focus we have as we “tie up loose ends” and that moment when we’re ready to walk out the door, embrace our well-earned time off. I’m guessing that this moment, the one just seconds away from freedom, is the one in which most of us remember our voice mail – and the need to change the message.

I’ve listened to a lot of vacation messages in my time. Most of them were delivered at the speed of light, many were impossible to understand, several lacked any valuable information and one had so much information I had to call back three times to get all the details.

This has got to stop! All of us hate reaching lousy voice mail messages; all of us are capable of creating great ones.

Here are a few tips that will help you create a vacation message that will serve your clients and prospects – and let you  embrace every second of your well-deserved time off:

1) Skip all the dates. You know what I mean – “I’m on vacation from … through to…” It causes confusion. Instead, simply state when you will be back at work, i.e.  “I’ll be back at my desk on Monday July 25…”

2) Be honest. You are going on vacation and you deserve to enjoy it without work interruptions. We all deserve this and it’s essential to our health and our creativity. So … don’t say you are monitoring and returning messages unless you mean it. The tone of your voice betrays you when this isn’t true and I know you’re not going to call me back.

3) Speak slowly – and repeat. Many vacation messages include the option to contact someone else, which is great customer service. But it’s totally defeated if the information is given so quickly that neither name nor phone number can be understood. As a rule, we are not prepared to “take a message” when we make outbound calls. Take this into consideration, stating names and phone numbers slowly and clearly, at the same speed it would take you to write them down. Then say them again so your caller can check what they’ve written down.

4) Sound happy. After all, while I’m listening to your message you are on vacation!

Enjoy your phone work – and your vacation –  everyone.


  1. Linda Daley says:

    Ha, I think you read my mind – came here looking for exactly this!

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Linda. You reminded me of it a few weeks ago and then Kayla Sutherland – the awesome student working with me this summer – mentioned it again on Friday. It was lovely to recreate the content – and to find such a fun graphic!

  2. Steve Foran says:

    Great advice,

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Steve. I do love the posts where I can number the items/steps. Makes it so much easier for everyone.

  3. peggy says:

    Thanks Mary Jane – I just came back from vacation and almost forgot to change my message back!

  4. Miller says:

    Nice website and good information

  5. […] All of us hate reaching lousy voicemail messages. All of us are capable of creating great ones. There are a few basic tactics that will serve your clients and prospects well … while you embrace every second of your well-deserved time off. Here’s my best advice. […]

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