When communicating with people, no matter the platform – be it iMessage, Slack, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc. – we have the ability to utilize audio messaging. I get why a lot of people don’t use them (probably?), but I’m here to tell everyone why they should embrace their own voice – and everyone else’s – when messaging one another.
Alleviate texts that could be misinterpreted
How many times have you been texting with someone, and you hear their text in a tone that they didn’t intend for you to? Let’s say a friend cancels plans, or your coworker sends a text wondering if you’ve completed that thing that they asked you to do earlier in the day (literally pick any mundane office task). Let’s say you read those texts, and you think your friend is mad at you for some reason, or you think your coworker seems irritated with you because your work may not be finished yet, and the reason you think these things is because of how you interpreted their text messages.
It sucks when that happens, it happens all the time, and it can be detrimental to a conversation when trying to decipher how someone actually feels, or when trying to clearly communicate how you feel. While emoji, grammar, and word choice can certainly help to clarify the tone you are trying to use when texting, sometimes, it isn’t enough.
By embracing voice messaging – by allowing someone to hear you as you want to be heard – you can ensure that the recipient of your message understands what you are trying to convey plainly and without confusion.
Talking – not texting – while driving
This is a big one, and a lot of us are guilty of it. You get to a red light, you check your phone, you see that you’ve gotten a text or a missed call – it needs your attention! – and now you’re distracted. Of course, our iPhones (and a lot of newer cars) have Siri capabilities, and you can tell Siri what to say in response – this is a better, safer option than texting rather than manually typing yourself.
That said, wouldn’t it just be easier to send an audio message to whoever texted you rather than sending a riddled response that Siri is sure to get wrong? Something to consider!
Connecting through communication
The first person to use voice messaging with me was my older brother, who has lived in Phuket, Thailand, for five years now (hi, Dan, I miss you all the time). While I can’t recall what he said in that first memo, I remember thinking how nice it was to hear his actual voice. I of course hadn’t forgotten what he sounded like, but I was instantly comforted when I heard him. Over the years since he’s moved out of Michigan, Danny and I have laughed, talked, and fought via WhatsApp voice messaging. There’s something really special about hearing his inflection and his tone given that he’s so far away from home, and those are things that can’t be conveyed in a text message. Not to mention, because there is a 13-hour time difference between Michigan and Thailand, phone and video calls are difficult to manage with our conflicting schedules and timezones.
As for my friends and voice messaging, well… those are entirely different relationships than with your siblings, aren’t they? While my friends and I text all the time, I can’t begin to tell you how fun it is to see when they’ve sent me a voice message, and to be clear, I send them constantly – they’re often of me laughing at something that happened or something they’ve said that made me laugh. I have one girlfriend, let’s call her Megan, with whom hundreds of audios have been sent and received over iMessage (though we now use Instagram audios in DMs, because *Megan* got an Android phone.) Below, you’ll hear an excerpt of a back-and-forth between Megan and I that took place when I went cruising through her liked tweets:
audio ID: “Right below it, you liked one that says, ‘I don’t know what you guys are talking about. The American school system is perfect? I have no financial literacy, but I do know how to square dance.’” Megan: “Yo, I feel like I’m in a really weird mood every time I go on Twitter. Those are funny, though. I should go back and look at what I liked.”
I don’t know the exact science behind friendships, but undoubtedly hearing each other’s voices (at least sometimes!) versus simply sending text messages has to be a leveled-up relationship, doesn’t it? The same would be true for the people you make the time to call on the phone versus the people you only text, or for the people you make time to see in person versus those you don’t.
As much as I love voice messaging, there is plenty of room for improvement within Apple’s voice messaging capabilities.
On WhatsApp, users have the ability to rewind and fast-forward voice memos, which is a key component while listening. If my friend sends me an audio on iMessage, all I can do is pause it. What’s worse, if while I’m listening to their audio they then text me, the memo itself stops, and I have to start the whole thing over. I have one friend in particular who sends me anywhere from two- to four-minute audios on iMessage, and starting his messages from the beginning if he texts me while I’m listening is entirely too cumbersome. I’ll listen again, but I’m not going to enjoy it as much. To that end, iMessage converts longer audio messages to a CAF (Core Audio File) within your text, which means you now can rewind and fast-forward. This is actually really nice in my opinion, and it’s something that would make voice message exchanges far more efficient if it translated to audios that were shorter.
An additional feature of voice messaging within iOS that would be helpful for organization and reference purposes would be Apple allowing us to see the voice memos both sent and received within iMessage, in the same vein that it does for photos and links. This *feels* entirely plausible, but honestly, who am I?
Lastly, if you want to hear the entirety of a voice memo within iMessage and it’s longer than whatever your screen display length is set to (mine is 30 seconds before my phone goes dark), you need to keep tapping your phone to keep it awake while listening, otherwise, your phone goes dark and then you again have to start over and replay from the beginning. Apple should treat voice messages like it does calls on speakerphone in that regard, allowing listeners to hear what someone is saying without having to worry about their phone going to sleep during the conversation.
I know that a lot of people don’t like voice messaging for a litany of reasons. As a receiver of voice memos, you now have to find the time to listen to someone rather than simply reading a text, and people are busy, and I get that.
Another common refrain I’ve heard when talking about voice memos with people is that if you’re going to do the work to send one, why not just call the person? And honestly this is a fair point, but sometimes I want to tell someone something at a specific moment, and I know that if I call them they might not answer, and am I really going to leave a voicemail? It’s the expediency of voice memos that draws me in, in addition to knowing that I am not bothering someone with a phone call when they might be busy.
If you haven’t embraced voice messages, I encourage you to give it a go sometime. Let someone hear you tell your story, or listen to you laugh, and you’ll begin to pick up on the nuances of their voice (if you haven’t already).
At the end of the day we all just want to be heard, and voice messaging is an excellent avenue in which we can express ourselves to one another and connect with each other in a more meaningful, impactful way.
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