Creative Ideas for Your Telephone Answering Machine

Fun With The Phone

Nearly everyone has a phone answering machine or a voice-mail system of some kind.  And most outgoing phone messages sound something like this:  “Hi, we are away from the phone, but at the sound of the tone please leave your name and number and we will call you back as soon as we can.”  Very functional.  Very boring.  Not funny. Not memorable.  Here are some ideas for adding color to your outgoing message.

1.  There are some commercially recorded messages (usually found at bookstores) which you could use for your outgoing message.  These are normally musical parodies or celebrity voices.  I have a cassette tape of outgoing musical messages from country to 50s to Elvis, each with its own humor twist.  A 50s doo-wop style message might sound something like this:  

  “Don’t hang up!  Doo Doo (sung as in back-up for a 50s doo-wop style song)
  No, don’t you do it!
  You dialed the phone.  Doo Doo
  So talk into it!
  Leave your name and number too
  We will get right back with you!
  So don’t hang up!”

2.  Look for a friend who has an interesting voice to record your outgoing message.  For example, a fun variation is to have a sophisticated British voice speaking as your butler.  What ever their character-voice specialty is, put a twist to it and brighten your message.
3.  What if your phone answering machine was not answered by a person?  “Hello, this is the stove.  John hates it when I answer the phone, so please do not tell him.  Leave your message and I will put it on the back burner until he returns home.”

4.  Another idea:  “Hello. If you are calling for Tom, please press one.  If you are calling for Marilyn, please say two.  If you are calling for Jerry, please hold up three fingers.”

5.  Use the rule-of-three to break a pattern and set a funny line:  “If I am unable to answer the phone it is because I am either saving the world from crime, solving the global hunger problem, or taking a nap.  At the sound of the tone, leave a message, and I will call you back when I wake up.”

6.  I found a device called a Voice-Changer in a toy store.  In the past, I have recorded an outgoing message with a mechanical robot voice and the voice of a child.  The device takes your voice and converts it to something different.

7.  Have someone record your message in a foreign language and then add a twist at the end.  It could sound something like this:  “Quy vi muon biet  them chi tiet ve van de nay ,xin cho so dien thoai cung ten ho,va chung toi se tra loi ngay khi nhan duoc loi nhan cua quy vi. Cam on.  (then, add in your own voice)  If you are wondering what that means, at the sound of the tone, please leave your name and number.”  This may look lengthy, but takes only 17 seconds.

8.  Here is another idea:  “Hello…….  Hello??…….  Oh, I forgot, I am not at home.  Please leave your message at the sound of the tone.”

9.  Or try this one:  “Hi I am away from the phone.  No, actually, I am here, right now, recording this message.  But I have this feeling that, by the time you call, I might be gone.  Please leave your message at the sound of the tone.”

10. If the outgoing message is for a business line, be cautious about being too silly.  Cute, off-the-wall ideas work best for your home phone.

11.  Remember the basic principle: Less is More.  Avoid outgoing messages that are too long.

12.  These are just a few ideas.  But the best tip is to find ideas and twists of your own.  When something fun comes to mind, give it a try.