Did you know there used to be something before voicemail? It was called "the phone rings forever, until a) somebody answers it, or b) the caller gives up." Nobody really bothers with voicemail nowadays because we have those newfangled texting machines. Well, there's a reason people prefer texting; it's because it’s harder to come across as a babbling idiot with premeditated words and emoticons, whereas voicemail is a surefire disaster as you leave behind a bumbling trail of "ums" and "uhs" that are recorded for all eternity.
But sometimes you can't avoid leaving a voice message. Whether it's for a crush or a potential job interview, you already know you're doomed to unleash a veritable tsunami of rambling ineptitude. But it doesn't have to be that way. I speak the truth. You can choose another path. Here's how to, you know, not sound like such a voicemail spaz:
Rehearse what you're going to say, especially if you're nervous and the message is important. Hell, it doesn't even have to be important; I like to write cue cards and then practice on my brother before ordering a pizza. (He pretends to be a really difficult pizza person so I'm ready for anything. This lead to one of the worst fights we've ever had. The pizza was adequate.) This way you'll have an idea of what you're going to say so that that infamous, heart-stopping "beep" doesn't leave you suddenly frozen.
Don't bellow into the phone. You're not Ron Weasley, and this isn't your first time using a telephone, probably. (I can't verify either of those.)
Conversely, don't be too quiet. There's nothing more frustrating than straining to hear a mumbly voicemail. Also, just about anything spoken in a whisper can be misconstrued as sexy talk, so don't open up that zany misadventure. Unless you want to. (We all have slow days.)
Don't forget to leave your name if they don't have already have it. Chances are if you're an unknown caller, they shuffled you off to voicemail on purpose, laboring under the assumption that you would identify yourself there. So they're probably not going to go Sherlock on this thing and track you down... UNLESS you leave a juicy cliffhanger right before the message cuts off. (Sometimes I leave juicy cliffhangers regardless. People call me back sooner.)
Try not to babble. There are worse things than trying to decode somebody's frantic voicemail gibberish, but not many.
If all else fails, and your message is just a terrible, floundering verbal failure in which you trip over your words, choke on your own spit, and also somehow find yourself insulting his mother, then there is an out: hang up and try again. "But Elodie," you say, "the words are already out there. They're not coming back. The message was left. Do you mean this person will understand, and forgive my graceless attempt at human interaction, and agree via a mutual, unspoken contract to give me a clean slate?" No, that's not what I mean. I guarantee you they're going to keep that message forever and laugh it at when times are tough. Maybe play it at parties. No, I mean hang up and call back. Disguise your voice. Use an accent. Bear in mind that if you have to see this person regularly that you must use that voice and accent forever. But I think it's a fair trade. The message was pretty bad.
Holy molars, where was this guide when we left a voicemail for our crush (who happens to be the pizza delivery guy) last Friday?! WE NEEDED THIS THEN, ELODIE. Also, a note that might one day save your life: on most phones, after you record your voicemail, you can press "1", and then get the option to listen to your voicemail, and, if you so choose, RE-RECORD IT. Magic, right?