Do’s and Don’ts When Sending a Voice Message

A cross between a standard text message and a personal podcast, voice notes are becoming more and more popular. And Apple makes it easy to send them instead of the plain old iMessage: on the iPhone, you just hold down the little microphone button that appears next to where you type a text message; then you speak and send a snippet of your voice to the person you’re talking to. Some people like it. Some people hate it. Some people, like me, have recently converted. But there are rules of etiquette that you should know wherever you are.

Have a good relationship with the recipient

First of all, don’t send a voice note to someone you don’t have a strong, existing relationship with. Remember how text messages used to feel very personal compared to phone calls and emails, and you may have bristled when a colleague or acquaintance contacted you in this way? This is how voice memos feel now. There is something oddly intimate about hearing another person ‘s voice . Don’t send a voice message to a new friend, boss, professor, or someone who might not know how to play it back (like your grandmother).

Then use your understanding of the other person to get a feel for whether they even need a voice note. I used to reply to every voice note I received with a text that said something along the lines of “laughs, absolutely not” or “not listening to this, try again”. Some people just don’t want to pause their music or otherwise stop their day to listen to your monologue. You see, iMessage voice notes are tricky: they can’t be paused and restarted in the middle. You cannot track them down to listen to certain segments again. As soon as someone presses the play button, they perform actions; they should listen to the whole damn thing. Depending on your phone settings, the voice memo may also disappear after a few minutes of being played. There is a hurried, sort of chaotic element to consuming voice notes, and you should be aware – before you send them – if your intended recipient is down due to all of this.

When Rami Zabar, a media worker from New York, was asked to give him advice on voice memo etiquette, he reacted to the idea with little enthusiasm.

“I always prefer text messages to phone calls,” he said, pointing out the similarities between calls and voice notes: fuzzy service, loud distractions, or no time to sit and listen to audio make it hard to focus, while texts are just easier to read on the go. . In addition, he added, “it doesn’t allow me to direct or respond to the conversation.” Finally, he expressed annoyance at having to listen to the entire voice memo over and over every time he missed something that was said.

Thus, someone like Zabara is not a good candidate for getting your voice memos. Ask your friends if they want to communicate in this way or not. If you’re going to write a long message to send to someone you don’t normally correspond with in this way, it doesn’t hurt to write a message first and ask.

Make life easier for someone else

Voice memos should be fun! Once you get comfortable with them, you can tell exciting stories, sing along, or let your friends hear your surroundings. It’s intimate and cool, and if done right, can be a great way to connect. (Typically, I find great relief just launching a primal scream into a voice note for my best friend when something goes wrong in my life.) That being said, don’t mess it up by making the recipient work to get what you say.

“Voice memos should be less than a minute and 30 seconds,” said Emily Rella, a writer in her 20s who is also an avid voice memo user. “If you cross, cut it in two. And don’t do it while walking on the street. It can be muted.”

Remember that iPhone users can’t go back and play certain parts of voice messages, so splitting your longer stories into smaller parts at least gives them the option to only play certain parts. Be aware of your surroundings, too. For example, if you’re in a noisy bar or public restroom, be aware that you may be muted or your friend may hear something they don’t want to hear. Try to remember their location as well. If they’re in a noisy bar or public restroom, they may not want or be able to take out their AirPods just to listen to your 30-second tirade. Sometimes text is just the best option.


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