Vacation messages – It’s ugly out there!

July 30, 2012
Mary Jane Copps


Is it the excitement of summer vacation – or any vacation – that causes people to suddenly become, well, thought-less? That’s my guess.

I do empathize. 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.

And I’m guessing that this moment, the one just seconds away from freedom, is the one in which most people remember their voicemail – and the need to change the message.

This past week I listened to a lot of vacation messages. 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 I had to call back three times to get all the details.

People … this has got to stop! All of us hate reaching lousy voicemail messages; all of us are capable of creating great ones.

Here’s a few tips that will make reaching your vacation message a joy:

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 30…”

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; 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 its 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 proof what they’ve written down.

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

Now, if your vacation has already come and gone, and/or you’re already making plans for the Fall, do consider joining me and some of my favorite experts for our upcoming workshops:

Wednesday September 26: Melanie Taljaard of More In Store Marketing joins me for Spreading the Word, an in-depth investigation of how to use social media and the telephone to continually attract and engage your customers. We’ll identify your target market, share research strategies, investigate your online reputation, consider online advertising and much, much more.

Wednesday October 3: I’m joined by Peter Skakum of Tangent Strategies for Exceed Your Quota. This is a hands-on sales workshop that gets right to the point – to close more sales you must book more appointments and those appointments need to engage your prospect completely. You’ll leave this workshop with a powerful skill set for immediately improving your bottom line.

More details on these workshops, a downloadable pdf and registration forms are available at my website. Check it out here: 

One last thought:

“Someone might have a germ of talent, but 90% of it is discipline and how you practice it, what you do with it. Instinct won’t carry you through the entire journey. It’s what you do in the moments between inspiration.”  Cate Blanchett, actress



  1. Linda Daley says:

    Great tips! I’m guilty of doing my vacation voicemail messages last minute… that’s usually about the time I realize that I can actually take some time off. haha

  2. Gail Godreau says:

    Hi Mary Jane,

    Excellent post – and very timely!! As I’m preparing for vacation in the near future, I’ve been thinking about my voice-message.

    I have a corporate client who leaves the BEST out-of-office messages, so I’m planning to pattern mine after her. (I won’t say who she is or her inbox would be jammed. 🙂 )

    I also LOVE the quote you’ve shared, especially “It’s what you do in the moments between inspiration.” Isn’t that the truth!


  3. Steve Foran says:

    Very practical advice Mary Jane. Thanks. Steve

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