Anyone can call your phone at any time. Your voicemail message is like a virtual assistant, standing in your place when you’re not available.
For this reason, it’s important to have a greeting that matches your personal brand. Even your friends and relatives should be greeted in a way that reflects your values.
Personal Voicemail Greeting Template
A good message for your voicemail consists of five consecutive components:
- Your usual greeting
- A short sentence that you can not make a phone call right now
- A request to state the reason for the call
- The promise that you will get back to them soon
- A short: thank you & goodbye
“Hello, I’m sorry, but I can’t take your call. Would you please state the reason or concern for your call? I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you and goodbye.”
Politeness helps to prevent conflict. Being polite in your message also helps to encourage future communication. 
Greet your callers as politely as you would if you were face to face. Be consistent with the type of greeting that you would normally use.
For example, if they are accustomed to hearing “Hi” from you don’t switch to something else.
Using a greeting that deviates greatly from your typical greeting can be confusing. Some might even wonder if they’re calling the right number.
Words that display good manners help your callers to have a good impression of you. Adding “Please” and “Thank You” to whatever you say can make your message more pleasant. Use these along with greetings such as “Good day”.
You could say:
“Hello, I’m not available to take your call.”
“Hi. I’m not near the phone right now.”
“Thanks for calling.”
Don’t just say: “Leave a message”, “Talk”, or “Tell me why you were calling”.
Be General with Greetings
Some greetings might only be appropriate at a particular time of the day. For example, using good evening on your voicemail message is generally not a good idea. If a caller tries to contact you early in the morning, a neutral greeting would be more appropriate.
For example, instead of “Good morning” you could say:
“Hello. You’ve reached Trisha.”
“Hi. This is John.”
“This is Pablo. Thanks for calling.”
Always create your personal message at a time when you’re in a good mood. If you’re in a bad mood while you’re recording your message, your emotions might affect the tone of your message.
Try to smile while you’re recording your message.
Smiling while you’re talking to a person on the phone affects your tone of voice. Similarly, smiling while you’re recording your message will also help to make your message more pleasant.
Encourage Friends to Say Why They Were Calling
If someone was calling because they needed an address, instead of calling them back you could simply text the address to them.
Similarly, a friend might be calling to remind you of an appointment. Someone else might be calling to give you the information that you need. All of this can be said in their message and you won’t necessarily need to call them back to get those details. Instead, you can take immediate action based on their message.
Always ask callers to state why they were calling. It helps you to save time.
You could say:
“Hello. Please leave a message.”
“Hi, this is Karen. I’m not available to take your call right now. Please let me know why you were calling.”
“This is Kibwe. Thanks for calling. Please leave me a message after the tone.”
You should eventually call your friend back. It’s good manners to do so. You could also text them or let them know in some other way that you received their message. Ideally, it’s good to get back in touch with them as soon as you can. 
Get to Your Point Quickly
Some people have voicemail greetings that are several minutes long. It’s not fair to assume that a person who is calling you has a lot of time on their hands. They may need to leave a message quickly and being forced to wait during a long greeting can be unpleasant.
Ensure that your greeting is short and to the point. You can make it sweet or spicy without spending a lot of time talking. Your callers will appreciate the thought you put into it without being distracted by its length.
For example, if you want to use music in your message, you only need to play a short clip. Even five seconds of the song that you want to use can be effective and it’s much better than playing two minutes of the same song. Remember, while you might like that song, the person who is calling you might not appreciate it in the same way.
A Call Might Be Related to Business
Friends and family are usually the ones who will call your personal number. As such, you might sometimes adjust your personal greeting to match that expectation. However, that’s not always a good idea.
Sometimes the person who calls your number might have a business purpose in mind.
For example, your college or even your workplace could be calling. If you’ve been sending out job applications, a potential employer could be calling.
In every case above, you would want to make a good impression. Don’t use abusive language in your greeting. Try to eliminate background noises that can be distracting.
Ensure that your entire message can be heard clearly. Pay attention to your diction and always choose your words carefully. If you’re including humor, make sure it’s in good taste.
Don’t Give Away Too Much Information
Anyone can call your personal phone at any time. Your message shouldn’t immediately let them know that you have three children, a new television, and two cars.
Also, try to avoid inadvertently sharing information on the time that you get home or leave each day.
If you’re on vacation and you’re not at home, it’s usually not a good idea to share that information in your voice message. That can make you a target for individuals who have malicious intentions. Some scammers might even try to hack your voicemail. 
Some people are so security-conscious that they avoid using their names altogether. Instead of stating their name in their greeting, they use their phone number instead. Whoever’s calling should already have the number. Stating it in the greeting simply confirms that the individual has called the correct number.
In this case, the greeting might say:
“Hello. You’ve reached 345-6789.”
“Hi. You’ve called 321-1234. Please leave a message.”
“Hello. Thanks for calling 456-7891. Kindly leave a message.”
Sophie Hammond is a journalist, psychologist, and freelance speechwriter for people in politics and business. She lives on the edge of the Rocky Mountains with her dog and a lifetime supply of books. When she’s not writing, she can be found wandering through nature or journaling at a coffee shop.