Voice messages, also known as voice memos, voice texts or voice notes, are the perfect hybrid between efficiency and conversation. Think of it this way: If two modes of exchanging information — voicemail and texting — had a child, it would be voice messages.
Unlike voicemails, voice messages are sent like texts. The feature is already accessible to those using iMessage, WhatsApp and Telegram.
If you’ve recently sent one, you’re not alone. WhatsApp reports that 7 billion voice messages are sent daily on the app. And, no, it’s not just the cool kids (aka teens) who are sending them. According to Vox data, 62% of Americans have sent a voice message, and 43% of 18- to 29-year-olds (in other words, much of Gen Z) noted they use it weekly.
Forget fat-fingering texts and wasting time trying to undo autocorrect. Now you record your thoughts and send them in an instant, quickly conveying your mood. Sure, you could call, but that’s only if you have the time to participate in small talk. It can be tricky to set aside time for a phone conversation, especially during the workday when you’re just trying to relay a bite-sized amount of information. It can be easier to send a voice memo that speaks directly to the issue rather than hopping on a call that is likely to last way longer.
Voice notes are more expressive than sending a text, which lack tone and can be hard to convey feelings. When you hear someone’s voice, you feel a deeper connection to them. They can also be a lifesaver when you need to communicate something more delicately.
For parents of little ones, voice notes are a nice way to stay connected to grandparents, sharing a snippet of information or a quick hello from a grandchild. It can help long-distance couples stay more connected and reduce the feeling of homesickness. Voice notes can be handy when a circumstance has come up where you have to cancel on someone or explain a rather elaborate problem that would be too complicated to text.
Research shows us that listening to someone’s voice can help us process “paralinguistic cues,” like vocal pitch, intonation and speech rate, which aren’t possible to receive in a traditional text. Think of these as cues to how people feel, like when someone is speaking quickly because they’re excited or emphasizing certain words when conveying meaning.
Voice Notes Are Easier Than Ever To Send
Long gone are the days of clunky voice messaging. What used to be rather annoying, requiring you to click and hold a small icon and send without being able to review it, is now quite simple. You just press and hold the microphone or audio waveform image and record your note.
For some, the COVID-19 pandemic might have catapulted them into using this method of communication, even though it’s been around for longer than that. iMessage launched the voice messages feature back in 2014, but they weren’t as convenient to use or as popular back then.
The Downsides Of Voice Notes
While most aspects of voice messages are positive, there are a few downsides. For starters, listening to a voice note takes longer than reading a text. In certain cases, a text might be preferred, say if you’re sending a list of items to pick up at the grocery store, a name of a product, an address or a URL.
Some friends and family members might leave you long-winded messages, updating you on anything and everything that comes to mind. Our advice for handling these people — try to steer back to texting to save your sanity!
The Etiquette Behind Voice Texting
Where texting can sometimes misconstrue meaning and even make some matters worse, voice notes can help eliminate gray areas. Use voice notes when you need to convey nuance or emotion.
Resist the urge to send a super long monologue. In most cases, voice notes are best when short and sweet. However, if you have a juicy story to tell, by all means, take your time and get expressive.
The nice part about voice notes is that there’s no pressure to respond immediately. Since it takes more time to listen, it’s somewhat assumed a response will occur when it’s most convenient for the sender. Currently, there’s no time stamp option on voice notes, so you don’t have to worry about the sender seeing when you’ve listened to the message and feel rushed to respond immediately.
Voice notes aren’t limited to personal communication. They’ve already branched out into professional settings with integrations on platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Last year alone, Slack users listened to an average of one million audio clips per week.
This new(ish) way of texting is probably not going away anytime soon, so why not join in on the fun? Next time you reach for your phone to send a text, consider sending the same information in a voice note. It might help you feel more connected.