An answering machine message typically asks the caller to leave their name, telephone number, and the reason for their call. Depending on if the answering machine is for a personal or business telephone line, the content and tone of the answering machine message might differ.

An example of a standard answering machine message for a personal line is, "Hi, this is (name). I?m sorry I cannot take your call right now. Please leave a detailed message at the tone along with your name and telephone number. I?ll return your call as soon as I return. Thank you." For a business line, the answering machine typically states the name of the owner of the line, the name of the business, a brief message to leave the owner of the line and a contact number to reach the caller.

Many owners of answering machines use humorous greetings also. A popular greeting is: "Hello. I?m available right now but cannot find the phone. Please leave a message and I will call you up as soon as I find it." Another popular one is: "Hi, this is [your name]. I?m sorry, I can?t answer the phone right now. Leave a message, and then wait by your phone until I call you back."