When Skype was introduced to the world a little over ten years ago, the technology was somewhat unreliable. Fast forward, and today you can conduct Skype video conferencing that looks and sounds professional. But it still requires work on the part of the participants.
Invest in the Best Equipment
It’s possible to conduct a Skype call on a laptop or desktop, but the sound quality built into these devices is not very good. Instead invest in a good headset, which gets the microphone closer to your mouth, produces a better sound and blocks out more background noise.
You can use the camera that is built into your computer, or mount a higher-resolution camera on top of your monitor.
Skype, owned by Microsoft, recently introduced Xbox One into its line of video game machines. Xbox One allows multiple individuals to be on a Skype call with enhanced video and sound quality. No more huddling around a small computer screen.
In either case, it’s important to eliminate activity and clutter in the background. Consider investing in a Webaround, a blue screen that attaches to the back of a chair and blocks out clutter and people behind you. The 42” model is $50, the 52″ version is $65 and the jumbo 56” version is $65. It folds up into a small pouch so you can conveniently and easily store it.
Do Your Advance Preparation
It’s fun to Skype with your family and friends when all you need to do is show up.
But participating in a Skype call with a client or prospect requires the same professionalism as a meeting in their office.
Wear neutral colors, as all white, black and red clothing can create glare. If you don’t have a Webaround, then be sure to remove your child’s toys from behind you if you’re Skyping from home. Clean your desk area. Even a large container of coffee can be a distraction.
You need enough light in the room and on your face so you can be seen clearly. Don’t have any bright lights right behind you pointing into the webcam. It will make your face look dark. The best space is a room with a high level of ambient light.
Keep your eyes focused on the camera, as you’ll be looking directly at the people on the other end of the call. You’ll appear unprepared and lacking in confidence if you’re eyes are constantly darting around the room. If you wear glasses and plan on Skyping a lot, definitely invest in reflection free glasses.
Avoid large gestures and swiveling in your chair. Keep your hands within camera range and away from your face. Feel free to gesture to reinforce a point such as using your fingers to count off the number of steps in a new program. Smile when appropriate as smiling adds inflection to your voice and helps you appear interested and approachable.
It’s not easy to talk directly into the camera. To help you feel more comfortable doing so, cut out six inch circles of paper and hang them up in your home or office as you go through your day. Practice talking to the circles as if you were telling a story to a friend. While this may sound strange, it actually does help with eye contact and focus.
Practice With a Friend
Before the interview, schedule a Skype call with a friend or colleague. If you feel you will need notes, place cue cards behind the camera at your eye level. Write your key messages and the client’s name in large, bold letters. Ask for feedback on how you looked and sounded.
Sit at a comfortable distance from the camera. Imagine your face is a painting and position yourself at a distance where people will be comfortable looking at you without seeing every “brush stroke” if they get too close.
Have you used Skype and/or Google Hangouts? If so, which service did you like best? Were there any downsides?
- 9 Cool Things You Didn’t Know Skype Can Do (wisebread.com)
- 8 tools to sharpen your Skype, Hangout and videoconferencing skills (ragan.com)
- Don’t Wear Your Pajamas on Skype in a Media Interview (presenting-yourself.com)