If you have to call clients in other parts of the world it’s not surprising that you will sometimes be put through to their answer-phone (voice-mail).  If you are like me, you will have received answer-phone messages in English from non-native speakers that are confusing and hard to understand.  In this article you can learn some tips to leave messages more effectively.

Two important tips for speaking on the telephone:

When speaking on the telephone you should keep in mind the following.

1. ARTICULATION/PRONUNCIATION – pronounce the words clearly and accurately.  If you have to give numbers and letters, eg an email address make sure that they are pronounced clearly in the real alphabet (not a Hong Kong variation) too.  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to listen to someone who can’t distinguish the sounds of v and w (vee / we).  If you don’t know how to pronounce letters correctly, you probably shouldn’t be making phone calls in English.  If that applies to you – seek training from Altitude immediately!

2. VOCAL VOLUME LEVEL – don’t shout down the phone, but speak loud enough so that people can hear you comfortably.  If there is a lot of noise in the background you will need to apologise for this and perhaps reschedule the call.

Speaking Tips when “Leaving” a telephone message

1. Do not speak too fast! – If you speak too quickly, the person listening to the message might not be able to catch important parts of your message, especially if you are leaving important information.

2. Pronounce your name clearly – Announce your name slowly and clearly, especially if your name is not a common name. Spell your name slowly if necessary. Allow people to get the correct spelling of your name.

3. Slow down when saying your telephone number –The listener needs time to write down the number. Repeat it so that they can double check that they recorded it correctly.

4. Give your company name, your title & why you are calling – In one or two short sentences describe who you are and why you are calling. If you are requesting information, leave the important details in a brief message.

5. Let them know when to call you back – Leave a date and time, and don’t forget the telephone number – they cannot call you back if you don’t leave a number.

6. Always sound professional – People may judge you by what you say and how you say it. Ensure that your message is precise and concise, not long-winded. Long messages lose the listener’s attention.

For more information about Business English courses please visit https://businessenglish.com.hk/business-english.  You can arrange a free consultation with an experienced Business English teacher and join the mailing list for free advice about learning English for Professional Purposes.