Yes, I am back this week from the jaws of the flu and a great deal of snow.

In my attempt to catch up, I have been making numerous telephone calls and decided it was time to discuss answering machine messages. I have heard just about everything on people’s machines and most were less than impressive. Talk about unprofessional and certainly not enhancing one’s image, these were it!

One message was recorded as a person was driving and you could hear the wind blowing, the trucks passing by, and the radio in the background. The voice was muffled and at times you could not understand what the individual was saying.

Several examples of messages included:

  • Only stating a person’s first name
  • Smacking gum while talking
  • Speaking so rapidly you could not understand the message
  • So long of a message I became bored….but had to continue to listen to see just how long it was going to be!
  • Musical messages
  • Messages delivered by a famous person’s voice

And the list could continue. What do answering machine messages say about our image? The answer is quite a bit.

Please keep in mind that today initial communication with someone may be conducted via answering machines. In some cases you may carry on a “conversation” via machines long before a personal interaction. So keep your message clear, concise and presented in a professional manner. State your complete name, company name if appropriate, and ask the caller to leave a message. Saying that you have reached an answering machine is not necessary as most everyone understands this method of communication. If possible, state when a message may be received and returned.

Your answering machine message is a representation of you and your image, let it speak positively about you.

What is your message? What is the best or worst message you have heard? Please share so that I may add more to my listings.

Author: Nyda Bittmann-Neville is an international image and branding doctor helping clients to develop a healthy performance in marketing and communication. You may reach Nyda at [email protected] or visit her websites at,, and