Let’s face it, a lot of us have been having some very unsatisfactory video chats of late. Which is a great pity considering this form of ‘get together’ is fast becoming our go-to for socialising. From seeing only half a friend’s face on the screen to having conversations obliterated by background noise, frustration can soon take over from the fun of meeting up online. So, to help you make the most of your video catch-ups, we have 8 more tried-and-true tips to help you nail the call!
Nothing is worse, when video calling, than looking at a face in deep shadow or harsh light. To avoid this, sit well away from a window, or close the curtains closest to you to shut out harsh sunlight.
- Cancel those calls!
No one wants to be deep in conversation, only to be interrupted by an incoming call. If you have a video date, let other friends and family know in advance that you will be unavailable at this time. While it may not always be possible to avoid all incoming calls, switching the call volume to ‘vibrate’ or ‘mute’ means the intrusion will be virtually unnoticed. And while enjoying a video catch-up, never, ever be tempted to take any call that isn’t urgent.
- No noise, please!
Background noise can destroy a video catch-up. If you’re sharing your home with others, set up your calling space in a quiet location (even if it means sitting in the car!). Schedule calls for times when small children are taking a nap or watching TV. Ask adolescents to listen to their music via headphones, and take the spark plug out of the lawnmower! It also helps to tap on your own ‘mute button’ while your on-screen friend is speaking. That way, if there is any noise at your end, they won’t be aware of it.
Everyone needs to know they’re being listened to. In face-to-face conversation, eye contact is the usual method of conveying this. In video chat, however, this isn’t always as reliable, especially if a connection is out of focus from time to time, so as you listen to your friend, be sure to nod in affirmation, and use plenty of facial expressions (smiles and frowns, for example) to let them know you are following their every word.
- Don’t interrupt
We interrupt each other a lot in face-to-face conversation – sometimes to affirm what’s being said, sometimes to gain clarification, sometimes to add to the conversation. Don’t be tempted to do this in video chats as it will only cause confusion, especially if there is a time delay. Instead, wait patiently until your friend has completely finished what it is they want to say, and then come in with your own comment.
- Have it on hand
If you’re bringing to the on-line conversation an object you want to share with your friend, be sure to have that item on hand. While you can keep a face-to-face conversation going while you rummage in your handbag, or get up from the table to search in the bookshelf, this doesn’t work for online calls where you (or your face) disappear off screen as you do this.
- Note pad reminders
Believe it or not, face-to-face conversations have regular pauses (sometimes for more than a minute). During these breaks, you may glance down at a magazine or newspaper lying on a table, look around a cafe at other customers, wave to a friend sitting across the room, or gaze out the window while your friend does the same. This doesn’t work for online get-togethers where the interaction is more concentrated due to its confined surroundings. Consequently, protracted pauses can feel uncomfortable, which is why it’s helpful, prior to the call, to note down on a piece of paper some go-to topics of conversation, questions you want to ask your friend, and things you want to tell them. Keep the notepaper out of sight and refer to it discreetly if you feel conversation is drying up.
- Take a tour
Sometimes, you will have features of your home and garden that you want to share with your video chat friend. If this is the case, practise, before the call, switching your screen to ‘view’ rather than ‘you’ (in most smartphones this is done via the symbol at the bottom of the screen showing a camera surrounded by two arrows). When showing a scene to a friend, walk over to it before you activate the ‘view’ mode so that your screen buddy doesn’t get a bumpy motion-sickness-inducing ride! And when you do display a scene, pan much more slowly than you think you need to so that the view comes into focus at all stages of the sweep.
At pity considering this form of ‘get together’ is fast becoming our go-to for socialising. From seeing only half a friend’s face on the screen to having conversations obliterated by background noise, frustration can soon take over from the fun of meeting up online. So, to help you make the most of your video catch-ups, we have the first of 15 tried and true tips to help you nail the call!