Your voice, even when you’re out

Ooooooooh, look who's ooo.

Ooooooooh, look who’s ooo.

Ah, the Great British Summer. That blessed time of year when London commuters are able to traverse the capital without a sweaty armpit for a hat. When merry bands of campers perform the rain dance that is the pitching of tents, when low-cost airlines test low-fuse tempers, and when office workers smugly turn on their out-of-office messages.

I am treating my summer holiday a bit like a pick and mix and have been peppering my time with an assortment of long weekend getaways. This has given me the great nerdilicious joy of being able to compose multiple email out-of-office messages.

While I never leave out key information – like alternative contacts and details of when I will be back online – it is important to me that each composition reflects a bit of who I am. And guess what, people love it! Seriously, now when I come back from each trip I have emails waiting for me that aren’t just about stuff I need to catch up on, but about how my OOO (terrible acronym) made such-and-such smile, and how so-and-so looks forward to my holidays just to see what I’ll write in my OOO. Is it any wonder I now aim to elicit wild applause with every outing?

You may not be as blatant in your desire to stand out as I am, but this game does prove something: people really do respond to a bit of personality. It’s fun, it’s unexpected and it makes a nice change from corporate beige. Most importantly, in a competitive market it’s the smallest things can elevate you above the crowd.

Remember that quite often, especially in a professional context, the first time a person comes into contact with you is via email. The wording of your email address, your email footer, the way you manage the in- and out-flow of messages; these all work together with the actual content of what you write to help recipients form a picture of who you are. The OOO is just one more e-advert.

Do you remember the chap who said he’s going  going to be away from his desk from X date to X date or the guy who says he’s gone to Greece to study the varying shades of British Sunburn Pink? Obviously you need to be ensure that your personal tone does not completely clash with the corporate brand you may be representing, and there is a fine line between amusing and annoying, but people, I work in the HQ of a major bank; if I can inject a bit of chutzpah into my OOO, so can you.

Don’t just stop there either, you still have a voicemail greeting to record. It still baffles me when people don’t have a personally recorded greeting on their phones. It needn’t be long – in fact please don’t waffle on – but at least give me the confidence that I have in fact called the right number and will be leaving a message for the right person.

There are plenty of articles out there offering guidance on how to construct and record the perfect voicemail greeting – some even written by me – but really, the key trick is to smile. Actually physically make the corners of your mouth go up. Why? Because believe it or not, smiles are audible. Smile, speak slowly and clearly, be sure to include the basics like your name and – if relevant – the name of the company you are representing, and as my dad would say “Bob’s your carbuncle”, you’re done.

Now then, who wants to email me? I’m off to France soon and you know I’m scripting already!

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