Taking messages

Taking and passing on messages for absent co-workers is often the responsibility of everyone in the workplace.

Passing on messages is not limited to relaying details of a missed telephone call.  A message might be taken and passed on in any of a number of ways, including:

  • a telephone message pad
  • forwarded emails
  • redirected letters
  • details received from visitors
  • information passed on to others at a meeting.

It is important to pass on messages using appropriate communication equipment and in accordance with your organisation’s protocols.  Such communication equipment can include the internal and external phone system, fax and email.

Case example

A co-worker picks up a call for you while you are away from your desk.  The caller, Barbara, provides her full name, purpose of the call, and explains that she needs a response within an hour.

What happens next?

Co-worker enters the details on a message pad

You see that Barbara wants some very specific information.  You pull the relevant file so that the details are visible during your conversation.  Barbara is impressed with your prompt response and that you have the information on hand when you call.

Co-worker jots down a note for you to ‘call Barbara’

No phone number, no last name, no clue as to whether Barbara is your client, colleague, or someone trying to sell office supplies.  You spend valuable time working out who she is, then your call goes unanswered – she has gone for the day.  You reach her the next day, to discover you’ll need to get a file out and then call back again.

Co-worker does not write the message down

The co-worker forgets to tell you about Barbara’s call.  Barbara now has a very poor opinion of your organisation.  Next time she speaks to your manager she complains about your lack of response.

Audio activity

Taking messages

Print out a copy of this message pad, or use a similar one from your workplace.

Example message pad (Word Document 32KB)

Listen carefully to the message below and use your message pad to write down the details, so that the co-worker has all the relevant details.

Listen to the audio clip

text version

Worker: Good morning, Heritage Rural Support Agency – Karen speaking.

Caller: Hello. My name is Max Yeoh. Could I speak to Lisa please?

Worker: I’m sorry, Lisa is away from her desk – can I take a message?

Caller: Thank you. It’s Max from CoCare. Could Lisa please give me a call – within the next hour? It’s about the new agreement.

Worker: (aside, as writing down) Max... Could you please spell your surname?

Caller: Y–E-O-H

Worker: (aside, as writing down/confirming) Y-E-O-H. From CoCare, regarding new agreement. And your number Max?

Caller: 0497 345 321.

Worker: 0-4-9-7-3-4-5-3-2-1. Thank you Max, I will pass the message on as soon as Lisa is back.

Last modified: Tuesday, 12 November 2013, 3:19 PM