Frequently Asked Questions

Voice Mail / Telephone Etiquette

What is good voice mail etiquette?
  • When leaving a voice mail message, always identify yourself and the organization you represent. Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Leave voice mail messages that are concise (write an outline or even a script before you call, if you find it hard to compose a message on the fly). Convey concrete information.
  • Don't ramble. Remember, a voice mail message is not a two-way conversation. The recipient may have many other messages to pick up.
  • Always give your phone number when you leave a voice mail message. Even if you have spoken with your recipient before, they may be accessing their voice mail from a remote location and not have your phone number with them. Also, you will find that your calls get returned much more quickly when you make it more convenient for your recipient.
  • Speak slowly and distinctly on voice mail when giving phone numbers or other facts the recipient may need to write down.
  • Watch your emotions when you leave a voice mail. One-way communication can come across angrier, more hurtful, or more self-pitying then intended.
  • If you do need a return call, leave a voice mail that says where and when you'll be available. Otherwise you're begging to play telephone tag.
  • Voice mail can be used as a record of communication, in the same way as print. When leaving a voice mail, remember, your message is being recorded.
What are some uses for the telephone in an IMYM classroom?

Some of the ways that IMYM teachers and students can use/have used the telephone in the classroom are:

  • conducting research
  • calling contact people at Manitoba Education and Training
  • making arrangements and/or bookings for field trips
  • contacting parents
  • making calls to technical support
  • teleconferencing with other IMYM classrooms
  • calling the school office
  • calling experts
Why should students practice using the telephone?

Proper use of telephone manners is not often taught in our schools, despite the fact that telephone communication is one of the most crucial skills needed in work and personal life. The telephone is also the first significant contact many people have with a new person, so it's an important image builder and a powerful medium for building good relations and trust. In today’s world, most of our initial contact is via the telephone.

What are some good telephone manners?
  • Speak slowly and clearly into the mouthpiece. Do not chew gum, eat, or drink while you are talking on the telephone.
  • Let your voice communicate that you are capable of understanding and are interested in the caller’s message.
  • Smile while talking on the phone, it makes your voice brighter.
  • Speak slowly and distinctly.
  • Use simple, uncomplicated language. Avoid using slang.
  • Listen actively – your time is limited on the phone.
  • Learn to listen to others without interrupting them.
  • Be friendly, but do not waste time. Get to the point of the call.
  • Be a good listener and pay attention to the person on the other end of the line.
  • Mentally picture the other person on the line - it will help to improve your concentration.
  • Turn off background noise such as the radio or television.
  • Remain calm during the conversation, even if the person on the other end is not.
  • End the conversation with a courteous comment such as "Thank you" or Good-bye." Then replace the receiver quietly.
  • Ask for permission before placing someone on speakerphone.
  • Return calls within 24 hours.
  • If you are calling across the zones, consider what time it might be at the location you are calling. Check the Area Code and Time Zone Map in the White Pages for the location and time.
  • Do not call someone before 8 am or after 10 p.m., unless it is an emergency. The only exception would be if he or she told you it is OK to call earlier or later.
What is the proper way to place a telephone call?
  • Identify yourself. ("Hello, my name is Anita Johnson, and I am a student at St. Vital Collegiate.")
  • Always know and state the purpose of your call. Have an ‘opener’ to hold and focus the attention of the people you call.
  • Think of all the topics that need to be discussed (and write them down) before initiating your call. This will avoid any unneeded, follow-up calls.
  • If the person you are calling sounds busy, ask if you can call back at a more convenient time.
  • If you want your call returned, give your name, your telephone number, and a time when you can be reached.
  • Use available technology such as answering machines (keep the message brief and clear, state the time and date, repeat numbers slowly, sign off positively, and never hang up without leaving a message), email, and faxes to leave messages.
What should I say if I get a wrong number?

If you have interrupted someone's day, it's your mistake. The appropriate remark is: "I am very sorry. I've reached the wrong number. Please excuse the interruption."

How should I answer the telephone?
  • Answer incoming calls quickly. (Try to answer the telephone by the second or third ring.)
  • Always identify yourself. At school, identify yourself and the school by name. Flin Flon Middle School. John speaking.").
  • Do not simply ask "Who’s calling". This implies the calls are being screened. Something like "May I tell Mrs. Collier who is calling?" is much more appropriate.
  • If the call needs to be transferred, politely ask who is calling. (Ask before putting the caller on hold, and do not leave the caller on hold for long.)
  • Keep note-taking materials near the telephone. If you need to take a message, be complete and accurate.
What information should I include when taking a message?

Telephone messages must be taken carefully and delivered promptly. Taking messages well requires two important criteria:
(1) being polite and professional on the telephone and
(2) recording all the facts correctly. Double-check the numbers and spellings with the caller and use the 5 W's as a checklist. (Remember that each message you write well will help establish your reputation as an efficient, dependable student.)

  • Who is the message for? Who is the message from? (name, company, phone #, and best time to call)
  • What is the message?
  • When is the meeting or appointment mentioned in the message?
  • When was the message written?
  • Where is the receiver of the message to go or call back?
  • Why is the message important--what is the purpose?

After you have taken the message, deliver it promptly. You may fill out a standard message form by hand or use electronic mail (email), depending on the situation.