NOTE: This post is “from the archives”—or rather, from the early days when video calls were a new technology and Skype was the gold standard.
My first experience of speaking to an audience via Skype was a 2011 conversation on BNET about Anne Loehr’s and my then-new book, Managing the Unmanageable: How to Motivate Even the Most Unruly Employee.
Our interview illustrated how rustic Skype’s audio and video capabilities were at the time. But fortunately…
Skype: You Don’t Need Perfection to Get Your Point Across
It’s no surprise that TV and radio stations produce better video and sound than Skype. But years after it was first introduced, Skype’s quality is more than good enough for conversation, coaching, or just plain conveying your message.
Here are some tips to help you communicate successfully with Skype or other video conferencing apps — whether you’re making a presentation or attending a virtual meeting:
- The person you’re speaking to sees you through a camera feed. So place the other person’s on-screen image just below where your camera is located. That way, you can look at “them” (their image) and your camera at the same time. When done right, it’s like real eye contact.
- The camera that’s in or on your computer should be as close to eye level as you can get it, so that when you speak to the camera, you appear to be looking into the viewer’s eyes.
- You’re being viewed on a small screen, so stay away from big gestures or sudden changes in volume that can overwhelm the other person or the lower-quality microphone in your computer.
- Occasionally check to see what your viewer is seeing by glancing at your on-screen self. (You aren’t doing this to criticize yourself, but to check for big things you might want to fix, like a scowl on your face or spinach between your teeth.) Again, when you do this, be sure to keep the small box that shows you positioned on your screen near the camera that’s looking at them. That way, you won’t have to turn away from them in order to spot-check yourself.
Break the Skype Barrier
As you can see, with Skype — as with any other aspect of public speaking — there are tips, tricks, and techniques that can be taught. It gives you the ability to video conference with people anywhere in the world, using minimal equipment. It enables speaker coaching sessions, even if we’re separated by distance.
And it’s still (notwithstanding the “premium” option), free.
So if you’ve hesitated to try out Skype, now’s a good time to try it.