Voicemail can still be effective if used correctly. Work environment and expectations have changed a lot since I entered the workforce in the 80’s. Back then when your business connection was not in the office, you would leave a message with his/her assistant or on voicemail. Back then, we didn’t have mobile phones, email or text – everyone picked up a landline phone to communicate.

Now, it’s easy to send an email or text. Some companies such as JP Morgan Chase and Coca-Cola are considering opting out of voicemail — which I can understand. When traveling, it’s easier to read an email or text instead of retrieving a voicemail. Also, it’s easier to schedule a call using email or text – completely eliminating the need for voicemail.

However, the one drawback of using email or text as your primary method of communication is it’s difficult to understand … or easy to misunderstand the other person’s tone. For sticky work situations, talking live eliminates any misreading of tone.

For those instances when you decide to pick up the phone to talk with your business connection without a scheduled call, practice your voicemail in case you need to leave one. Don’t assume the other person will return your call if there is a missed call from you.

1- Leave a short and concise voicemail. Refrain from leaving a lengthy voicemail. Practice your message before dialing. What happens to lengthy voicemails? They are often deleted before the end of the message or saved to listen to later (but often forgotten). On the other spectrum are short messages saying “call me.” What does the caller want? When you’re leaving a message for someone who has a busy schedule it helps to state why you are calling. In this way, they can decide how much time they’ll need for your conversation.

2- Leave options for the best time to return your call. Refrain from saying “call me anytime.” What usually happens in this scenario is the caller returns your call and you don’t answer. Playing phone tag is extremely frustrating — especially, when you have a full calendar. It’s best to provide no more than three date/time options to return your call.

3- State how much time you need. Be realistic. It’s frustrating to have someone say they will only take 15 minutes when they actually intend to take twice that amount of time. Trust and respect are essential to build strong business relationships. Be honest about how much time you need and respect the other person’s time.

Being effective in your voicemail can foster better business results. Think of voicemail as a method of communication – it takes practice to be effective. Some people use technology which transcribes voicemails – so don’t overlook being effective in your voicemail.

Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter and as a financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”