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What’d You Say? Steps for a Successful Video Call

Have you ever been on a bad Skype video call?  I don’t mean an unwanted call with your mother-in-law or the uncle from Kansas that no one ever wants to be left alone with. I’m talking about Skype video calls where one or all of the participants use poor video call etiquette.  The connection gets broken up, the message is lost, and everyone walks away frustrated. How can you avoid that?

Fix the Lighting Beforehand

Lighting is one of the most basic aspects of any type of video production.  Good lighting makes the subjects appear clearly and naturally in the video footage, while bad lighting makes the experience feel low-budget and awkward.  Jumping on a video call with someone only to see a black figure surrounded by a bright glowing outline is the worst! Not only is this awkward for the people on the call, but it can start a sales meeting or job interview off on the wrong foot.

JonSellersHere are a few simple steps that you can take to make sure your lighting is great (or at least good):

  • Make sure that there are no light sources coming from behind you.  This means that you should not sit in front of a window unless you have a very powerful light source in front.
  • Don’t sit in a dark room.  This one seems obvious, but so many times I get on calls with people that are just sitting in dark or dimly lit rooms.  Turn on some lights!
  • Use soft lighting.  Set up some lighting so it is shining on your face, but make sure the light is as soft as possible.  You may have to tape some parchment paper over the if you only have access to a desk lamp.
  • Watch the weather. The lighting may be perfect when you sit down for the call, but thunderstorms can roll in or the sun can come out and ruin any set up you have.

Eliminate Background Noise

Sound quality is even more critical to the success of your video calls than lighting. While  you can make calls without video, it’s almost impossible to make them without audio.

There are a few things you can do before and during the call to cut back on noise.  Take these steps to ensure your audio is coming out clearly to your recipient:

  • Make sure to turn off any ambient noise producers such as TVs or radios.  The microphones that are built into devices aren’t usually the strongest, but you never know when something is being picked up and distorting your communications.
  • Don’t fidget.  If your computer or tablet microphone is sitting on the desk that you keep tapping with your pen or kicking with your toe, chances are, your call participants are hearing some strange feedback.
  • Let others around you know that there’s a call going on. If you’re in an office, tell your coworkers that you’re jumping on a call so they don’t ask you questions or start playing music halfway through.

Be Patient

Patience is a virtue.  If you want to have successful Skype video calls you must learn patience.  Oftentimes video calls take place between participants that are located far from each other. People video chat when they can’t meet in person. Even though we think of the internet as being instantaneous, data actually has to travel from point A to point B.  This can cause a slight delay in the conversation, especially if one of the participants has a slow internet connection.  Entrepreneur Online highlighted several more no-no’s in their funny video call etiquette video.

Take these steps to have smooth conversations:

  • Breathe.  When the other person ends their sentence, take a breath.  If they don’t say anything else, you should proceed with your next response.  This will help to eliminate you both talking at the same time.
  • Speak slowly.  If the internet connections are slow, the audio may break up a bit.  If you keep a slow and steady cadence to your speech, your message will likely come across clearly.

Skype video calls are a great way to grow and maintain personal relationships over long distances.  Don’t let poor video call etiquette ruin your experience (and possibly the relationship).  Are there any major faux pas that I’ve left off of this list?

About the author

Jonathan Sellers