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Planning Retirement Online

Improving the messages

It ain`t what you say it`s the way that you say it

How to improve your messages on the answering machine   


Britain is a nation of “galloping gossips”, “shy whisperers” and “mysterious unknowns” according to latest research from BT. We may love our voicemail services and see ourselves as better communicators than ever before, but when it comes to leaving phone messages even the smoothest talkers can become tongue-tied, gabble or panic and put the phone down without even uttering a word.  


Research conducted on behalf of BT Answer 1571, the free messaging service, on 1,003 adults aged 16 years and over, has uncovered some of the most annoying message habits, with percentage of complaints as follows:


1. Not leaving a name or number.

2. Speaking too quickly.         

3. Speaking too quietly.                    

4. Not giving a reason for calling.      

  5. Leaving too much detail.      

  6. Not leaving the time of the call.      









BT enlisted the help of independent voice consultant, Yvonne Gilan, to compile these top tips to help people leave the perfect message. 


V-mail etiquette top tips

  •       First impressions count: if you are trying to impress or charm, put on a smile - can be sultry or friendly - when you talk down the phone and you  will transmit some of it down the line.

  •       Size does matter – keep your message  short and simple and you are more likely to get the response you want.

  •       Nice and easy does it – do not gabble - your recipient should not need a linguistics degree to make sense of what you are saying.

  •       Do not be a stranger – you would be amazed how many callers forget to leave their name and number, so do not forget to do it, and do not be a number mumbler – speak slowly enough to allow those without shorthand to write it down correctly.  Repeat your number slowly.

  •       Be in control – if your friends or family are the unreliable type make it easy and say you will call them back. 


Curiously, the research revealed some regional differences in behaviour…

  • 49% of Londoners tear their hair out at people not leaving a name and number when leaving a message. Thirty per cent of them also wish that people would give a reason for calling.

  • North of the border messages seem to be shorter and punchier with only 13 per cent of Scots getting bugged by long-winded messages.

  • The thing that annoys those from the South East and East Anglia most  is people gabbling their messages, whereas only 26 per cent in the North West find this to be a common problem.

  • 32% of people in the East and West Midlands find the most common problem is that people leave messages so quietly that they are difficult to understand at all.

  • Among louder North Westerners, only 21 per cent find this a problem.

However more people in the North West than anywhere else in the country find that people do not even say when they called. 

BT Answer 1571 is a free messaging service from BT – already being enjoyed by four million customers. Customers simply dial 1571 from their home phone or visit  to set it up and BT Answer 1571 will then take your messages even if you are on another call or surfing the Internet. The service stores up to 10 messages and it is free to set up and free to pick up your messages from home. Messages can be up to two minutes long and will be kept for twenty days once listened to.


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