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‘I can’t answer your call right now, please leave a message’

‘I can’t answer your call right now, please leave a message’

Leaving a message on the phone with the intentions of a call back or basically to be understood is an art in its own right

How you can use transferable life skills successfully! What you will learn from singing in a choir is how to make your pronunciation very clear.  This is a useful skill, when speaking on the phone and leaving a telephone message.

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Important message on the mobile

Recently a person I have never spoken with before or had any email contacts with left a message on my mobile.  I didn’t understand much of it, so Googled the number to see where the call was from. It turned out to be from a trainee-solicitor in London. I listened carefully to the message five times to get the gist of it. It was a company I had been in contact with, so I phoned them to clarify, what the message was about, because I was sure it was a message for another client. It was only, when I finally spoke with her that I knew it was a courtesy call to me, and that the confusion with some words was because of speaking in the message hastily. Even I had listened to the message five times – the business professional, who sounded like a native English speaker, didn’t get her message across. There were several reasons for this:

Cold calling

Mind you speed, when you call a client or leave a message. When you call people from ‘out of the blue’ about something you may have been thinking about for hours, so you are really into it, or you work in a specialist field using words other people do not use in their day-to-day work – give them a chance to tune in. You may use a verbal heading! Try to speak half your normal speed or even slower and consider the message carefully! If you want someone to return the call, why not repeat the telephone number twice, if you call them on a landline?

Singing practise

I have sung in many local choirs here in Sussex and have over the years learnt that putting an emphasis on the vowels makes a huge difference to the listener. When practising for a concert in the Phoenix Choir (in Eastbourne) to sing Elgar’s ‘A dream of Gerontius’ for a recorded concert with three choirs and 50 people in the orchestra, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

The score was a book of 200 pages and it took several months learn. You may read the lyrics out loud to learn the rhythm and intonation of the language; you may also practise the pronunciation of every single word, before you actually begin to sing, and then when you sing it, you will be told by the conductor to hold the vowels slightly longer. This way the lyrics will be easier to listen to and make sense to the audience.

a, e, i, o, u

The art of singing is to hold the vowels slightly longer than you would naturally speak the words, to give the listener a chance to catch the lyrics. If you watch the wonderful film ‘My Fair Lady’ you will notice how Professor Higgins makes the student practise these vowels endlessly for days on end. He teaches a ‘flower girl’ to speak better English.

Speaking on the phone when you want people to take a message

When phoning people I say; ‘Hello my name is Suuuusi Laaassen’ with stress on Suu (u:) and Laaa (a:) so, when the person has to jot it down, it is easier to understand, when I spell the two words for them.

Sometimes, when I phone someone and say my name, as it is: ‘Hello my name is Sussi Lassen’ – the person I just spoke to will repeat – ‘Your name is Druisillas’ or ‘Lucielle’– which makes it more difficult for me to explain, when I begin to spell my name and it takes longer for the person the other end to understand, what my names is.

Leaving a message when you are sick

It can be hard to recognise a voice if the person is dehydrated from being sick all night, or if they have a strong cold or high temperature. It is important to keep this in mind, when you phone in sick, to help the receptionist to quickly understand the message, instead of having to replay the message, sometimes several times.

If you would like training in speaking on the phone, we would warmly welcome you. Email  or call us on 01273 933616 for further information.

Sussi Lassen

The IYE Team