Sample Voice Mail Templates

Voice mail is one of the most frustrating aspects of telephone communication; just below navigating automated phone menus. If voice mail is used properly, it can be a highly effective tool. The trick is to ensure your messages clearly communicate all the information need, but no more.

Here are some tips for leaving good voice mail messages along with half a dozen temples you can customize for your own use.

  • Write down your voice-mail message before you start. It is easier to read from the page than to try and ad lib.
  • Have custom greetings for different circumstances: in meetings, on vacation, business travel, etc. Update your greeting when appropriate.
  • Remeber to be professional. You can never be sure who will be calling you. Leave the humourous messages for your home phone.
  • Tips for leaving a good out-of-office message

Basic message – limited detail

Hello!  You have reached the voice mail of <name>. Please leave a message after the tone, and I’ll contact you. To return to the receptionist, press <number> at anytime.

Basic message – detailed

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing. Today is, I am in the office, but I’m either on my phone or away from my desk. Your call is important to me. If you wish, leave a message and I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

Hello, this is <your name> of <company or department name>. I’m not available to take your call, but if you leave your name, number and a brief message, I will get back to you as soon as I can. If you would like to speak with my assistant, please dial <number>.

In meetings

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. Today is <day of week>, <date> I am in the office, but will be in meetings all day. Your call is important to me. If you wish, leave a message and I will call you back at my first opportunity. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

Out of office on business

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. Today is <day of week>, <date> I am out of the office on business. If you wish, you can contact me via my cell phone <number> or by e-mail. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

Vacation message

Hello, you’ve reached the voice mailbox of <name>. Please note, you can bypass this message at any time by pressing <key combination>. I am out of the office on vacation until <date>. If you need immediate assistance, press <number> to have your call redirected by the receptionist.

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7 steps to managing conflict

Several years ago, when new to a position, I had a conflict with another employee. By strict interpretation of our policies, I was right in my actions, but I managed it very poorly. Shortly after that, the other employee resigned. It was a lack of experience on my part. I was more interested in being right than resolving conflict.

One of the lessons you learn early in life, conflict happens. Not everyone will agree with you all the time, or even some of the time. To be successful in life, you need to know how to manage conflict.

I’m not so glib as to expect there is some magic “7–step” solution that will automatically eliminate all your conflict. There are areas of disagreement –say personal beliefs– that may never be resolved. Some past actions, that have deeply affected your life, could require a therapeutic approach to resolve.

However, much of the day-to-day conflict you face can be managed with deliberate and clear communication. If you find conflict is getting in the way of your accomplishing what needs doing, try these steps:

Explain the situation as you see it

Invariably, conflict is about perception and understanding. Start by telling the other party your understanding of the situation.

Describe how it is affecting performance

Tell them how this conflict affects what need to be accomplished.

Ask them to explain their point of view

This can be difficult, but let the other party explain their point of view.

You may find that these first three steps provide enough clarity to resolve the conflict. If not, move on the the next four steps.

Agree on the problem

Reach agreement on the problem. You need a common understanding to develop a workable solution.

Explore and discuss possible solutions

Work together to develop a solution to the conflict. Both parties will stick with a solution they have had a role in developing.

Agree on what each person will do to solve the problem

Make sure you walk away from the session with a clear understanding of which party is responsible for what action.

Set a date for follow-up

Don’t leave it hanging. Get together to make sure things are on track. If the conflict is of a complex nature, you may need several follow-up milestones.

In the case of individuals in conflict, this process can work one-on-one. In more complex conflicts, or where groups of people are involved, a third-party facilitator might be needed.

4 Basic Types of Speeches

The four basic types of speeches are: to inform, to instruct, to entertain, and to persuade. These are not mutually exclusive of one another. You may have several purposes in mind when giving your presentation. For example, you may try to inform in an entertaining style. Another speaker might inform the audience and try to persuade them to act on the information.

However, the principle purpose of a speech will generally fall into one of four basic types:

  1. Informative – This speech serves to provide interesting and useful information to your audience. Some examples of informative speeches:
    • A teacher telling students about earthquakes
    • A student talking about her research
    • A travelogue about the Tower of London
    • A computer programmer speaking about new software
  2. Demonstrative Speeches – This has many similarities with an informative speech. A demonstrative speech also teaches you something. The main difference lies in including a demonstration of how to do the thing you’re teaching. Some examples of demonstrative speeches:
    • How to start your own blog
    • How to bake a cake
    • How to write a speech
    • How to… just about anything
  3. Persuasive – A persuasive speech works to convince people to change in some way: they think, the way they do something, or to start doing something that they are not currently doing. Some examples of persuasive speeches:
    • Become an organ donor
    • Improve your health through better eating
    • Television violence is negatively influencing our children
    • Become a volunteer and change the world
  4. Entertaining — The after-dinner speech is a typical example of an entertaining speech. The speaker provides pleasure and enjoyment that make the audience laugh or identify with anecdotal information. Some examples of entertaining speeches:
    • Excuses for any occasion
    • Explaining cricket to an American
    • How to buy a condom discreetly
    • Things you wouldn’t know without the movies

Effective preparation requires identifying the purpose of your speech. Once you’ve identified your purpose, you can move on to the objective of your speech (coming next week).

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Improve Your Listening Skills by W.A.I.T.ing

It is axiomatic that you can’t listen while you are talking. Unfortunately, most of us spend more time talking that we do listening. Why do we talk so much?

  1. To communicate with purpose
  2. Because everyone else is talking
  3. We have an urge to talk
  4. We want attention
  5. Sometimes, we just don’t know.

Are one of those who needs to dominate a conversation? Do you jump in and interrupt or block other’s attempts to talk? If these are habits you need to break, you have to W.A.I.T.

Ask yourself, “Why AI Talking?”

If there’s no good answer. Stop!

To be a better listener, eliminate these bad habits:

  1. Interrupting the speaker.
  2. Not looking at the speaker.
  3. Rushing the speaker and making him feel that he’s wasting the listener’s time.
  4. Showing interest in something other than the conversation.
  5. Getting ahead of the speaker and finishing her thoughts.
  6. Not responding to the speaker’s requests.
  7. Saying, “Yes, but . . .,” as if the listener has made up his mind.
  8. Topping the speaker’s story with “That reminds me. . .” or “That’s nothing, let me tell you about. . .”
  9. Forgetting what was talked about previously.
  10. Asking too many questions about details.

Be Attentive: Eliminate distractions and focus on the speaker. This includes distractions of ego, your agenda and judgements.

Listen beyond the words. Tone of voice, pace and pitch, body language are all clues to the speaker’s state. Pay attention to the none verbal cues.

Put your ego aside. Let go of your need to control a conversation. Ask discovery questions to fully understand the speaker; let them take you where they wants to go. Be engaged, but not in control. Let the speaker finish then wait before responding.

Be open to new ideas. During the course of a conversation where new ideas are being discussed, it is easy to listen to argue. Don’t be threatened. Listen to learn.

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3 V’s of Confident Communication

Communication is more than talking. It’s a two-way process of sending and receiving messages: verbally and nonverbally. Communication is vital to personal success. Now matter how much you know about communicating,

Communication

Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

there always seems more to be learned.

At its most basic, your message has three main components: visual, vocal and verbal. To improve your communication style, choose one skill to practise daily and after a while it will become natural.

Visual

1. Eye contact – increasing eye contact makes listeners feel you are interested in them and genuine about the subject you are comminicating.

Practice

    : In your next 5 conversations, notice where you look and how long (should be 5-15 seconds) or ask someone to evaluate or video tape you.

2. Facial expressions, gestures and body movements – make up over half of the message you are communicating.

Practise

    : Notice in your next conversation how much impact different body movements have on the person you are communcating with. Example: Try standing with your arms crossed, leaning back against a wall with a frown on your face. Does this get any different response than standing with your arms bent and your body leaning slightly forward smiling or nodding as the person is talking?

3. Active Listening – show genuine interest in the person talking and listen in the way you would expect them to listen to you. Watch for signs that indicate a change in mood or their loss of interest.

Practise

    : Paraphrase what someone has said to you to be sure you understand the meaning. Ask questions to get further details.

Vocal

1. Tone of voice – make it match your message. If you are talking about a sport you are passionate about, a monotone voice would not be appropriate. Add enthusiasm and emphasis to parts of your conversation.

Practise

    : record your voice and evaluate where more emphasis or feeling may be added.

Verbal

1. Word choices – words only carry 7% of the message, but choose them carefully as sometimes they have different meanings. Example: Betty never thought much of it when she told her husband, “I’m at Sandy’s, we’re having hot dogs for dinner,” until her husband showed up at Sandy’s with hot dogs in hand. She realized he had interpreted what she said differently than what she intended. Use words that are specific to the points you are trying to make.

Practise

    : make list of words used that could be interpretted more than 1 way.

2. Use “I” messages – take ownership and send clear messages about how you feel about something. “I” messages are a description of what you say, do and hear. Avoid accusatory remarks like “you never listen” or “you’re so messy”. Instead, express how the situation makes you feel.

Practise

      : Consciously make an effort to start sentences with “I”.
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