The AABC’s of Leaving Messages – Part I

March 2, 2014
Mary Jane Copps

Leaving a message is one of the basics of effective telephone communication yet many of us find ourselves stumbling “at the sound of the tone”.

The first “A” of message leaving stands for Always, as in always leave a message. Of course, there’s an exception for every rule and in this case it applies to spouses, best friends, close business associates or partners, etc., but in the majority of cases, if you want to create and maintain a positive impression, leave a message.


  1. The first thing most people do when they check their phone between meetings and appointments is view call display. Then, when they check voicemail, they become aware of the difference between calls received versus messages left. A phone number that appears regularly in call display but never has a matching message, is perceived as aggressive, i.e. an aggressive salesperson. Chances of the call ever being answered are slim, slim, slim. (This also applies to blocked or unknown phone numbers.) 
  1. The “hang up” is still considered rude. And while this may change in the future, right now you are better to say something as simple as “Mary Jane Copps calling. Sorry I missed you. I’ll try back,”  rather than saying nothing at all. 
  1. A woman in one of my workshops shared with me that, as someone who had left an abusive relationship, a phone number with no message attached created fear and stress in her world, obviously the opposite of a positive impression. 
  1. Another woman shared with me that, as a parent, phone numbers with no messages caused her to worry about her children, thinking they might be trying to reach her from a hospital or other urgent situation and were somehow disconnected. Again, far from a positive impression. 

I’d be honoured to hear your thoughts on phone messages. Are you leaving them? If not, why not? All comments are welcome.

The second “A” stands for Avoid – as in avoid phone tag. You can read the post here:



  1. I leave messages. If it is to someone I’ve met, almost all get returned. And even “cold call” messages to people I’ve never met get returned 30-40% of the time. I always tell them why I am calling and if it didn’t make sense I wouldn’t have called them to begin with.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      That’s a great statistic, Pat. Thanks for sharing this information. It will definitely help everyone understand the value of leaving messages.

  2. Steve Foran says:

    Whenever I call, I am prepared with a message in mind. Still try to make it sound spontaneous. Make sense?

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Yes, Steve, that’s exactly right. Talking on the phone has a lot in common with public speaking. No matter how many times we give a speech, we still want it to sound “fresh”. Think about newscasters or the folks on the Weather Channel. They repeat the same information over and over, but it always sounds new and unrehearsed. Thanks for sharing. This is valuable information for everyone.

  3. Linda Daley says:

    I like to leave a message that says what I need, so the other person can be prepared when they call me back. Often this ends up being a ramble though. I’m expecting the next part of your article will help me remedy that!

  4. […] The AABC’s of Leaving Messages Part I […]

  5. […] purpose of a voicemail message is to either inspire a callback and/or create curiosity and interest in the prospect so that, when […]

  6. […] Sometimes this results in an immediate conversation or meeting but sometimes … there’s no response at all. You might send a few more emails, connect with the referral on LinkedIn and even reach out by phone, (leaving friendly and inspiring messages, of course). […]

  7. […] 2. Now also choose seven strangers to call –  potential new clients or employers. Use the tools you have available to learn more about them, i.e. LinkedIn. Be 100% clear about why you are choosing to call them and what you want to acheive. Craft and write out your introduction and some of the open-ended questions you wish to ask. Also write out what you will say when you reach their voicemail. […]

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