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Is anybody there?

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur von Business Spotlight
"Ääh, ja, also ich bin's. Eigentlich wollte ich nichts Bestimmtes. Ich leg dann mal auf, tschöhöö." Sicher haben Sie auch schon mal eine ähnlich tiefschürfende Nachricht auf einem Anrufbeantworter hinterlassen. Das sollte Ihnen nicht ein zweites Mal passieren.
We all know the situation. You have an important telephone call to make - important, but difficult. So you put it off for hours, maybe even days. Finally, having prepared yourself psychologically - and linguistically if it is in a foreign language - you pluck up the courage and call. And what happens? The other person isn't there. Instead you get their answerphone or voice mail. Damn.

In such situations, it is essential to be able to leave a simple, clear message. For example: "Hello, Michaela. This is Ian here. It's about 10.30 on Monday the 20th of November. I was just calling to talk to you about the AT500 project. Could you call me back as soon as possible, please. My number in the office is (089) 86581-999. I'll give you that once again: (0-8-9) 8-5-6-8-1-9-9-9. If I'm not there, you can try me on my mobile: (0179) 88879999. That's (0-1-7-9) 8-8-8-7-9-9-9-9. Thanks very much. Look forward to hearing from you. Bye."

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Although this message is simple, there are a number of key points to remember:

Make clear who is calling. In the case above, I assume that Michaela knows who "Ian" is. In other situations, you will have to give your full name, company and title: "Hello, this is Annette Braun, marketing manager at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt". Say your name slowly and clearly. If you are not sure you are through to the right person's voice mail, you can start with: "This is a message for...".

Always give the time and date. Most voice mail or answerphone (US: answering machine) systems automatically tell the receiver when the message came in, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

Be careful when giving the time. For British people, "half ten" is 10.30 not 9.30. Therefore, always say the time in full: "ten thirty", "eleven forty five", and so on. If there is likely to be any confusion between morning and afternoon, make this clear: "It's seven o'clock in the morning." If you are phoning to another time zone, make clear whether it is "eight o'clock in the morning your time" or "eight o'clock in the morning our time".

Give the weekday and the date. This is spoken "Monday the 20th of November" in British English, although we don't write "the" or "of". In American English, it is pronounced "November (the) 20th".

Say why you are calling. Note the little word "just". This does not mean that your call is unimportant; instead, it helps to create a friendly atmosphere. For example, you can say: "I'm just calling about..."; "I'm just calling to discuss..." (not: discuss about); "I'm just calling to let you know...".

Say what the other person should do. Do you want them to "call back"/"get back" to you? If not, you can say: "I'll try again later". Or you can simply leave a message: "I just wanted to let you know that the goods are ready. There's no need to call back."

Give your phone number clearly. One of the most biggest problems with phone messages is that people often give their own number too quickly or not clearly enough, forcing the receiver to listen to the whole message again. Your phone number is often the most important piece of information, so get it right first time. Even if you think the other person already has your number, give it again. Say your number once slowly, and then repeat it even more slowly. Say each number separately: "eight-eight-eight-seven" etc; never combine numbers ("eighty-eight", "eighty-seven" etc). The number "0" ist pronounced "oh" or "zero". Remember also that Handy is a "mobile (phone)" in British English and a "cell phone" in American English.

Thank you and goodbye. Thanking the other person makes a good impression, as does saying, "(I) look forward to hearing from you". This also helps to create gentle ending, rather than simply an abrupt "goodbye".

You also need a clear message on your own voice mail or answerphone. Here is one simple example: "Hello, this is Peter Müller.(or: You're through to Peter Müller) in the sales department of... I'm sorry I can't take your call at the moment. But please leave a message, and I'll call you back as soon as possible. Thank you."

If you want a shorter version, you could say: "Peter Müller. Please leave a message, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you."

If you are going be out of the office for a longer period, you might record a message like this one: "Hello, this is Peter Müller. I'm out of the office until the 15th of November. If it's urgent, please call my colleague/deputy/secretary Angela Hoch on extension 247. Thank you."

Finally, never delete a message until you have successfully called the person back. Otherwise, if you have written their phone number down wrongly, you will have no record of the correct number.
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 21.01.2002