September 20, 2012

Make Skype Stupendous

As more and more people do interviews and give lectures vis Skype I thought it would be helpful to put together a quick ‘cheat sheet’ on how to make sure Skype is working for you. While it’s likely you are already doing many of these things, as with so many things (ahem, voice mail greetings) the devil is in the details.

In other words, if you pick up one useful tip you’re that much closer to success.

So, without further ado:

Make sure your background is clear and uncluttered:This goes beyond “Don’t Skype in front of your overstuffed bookcase or unmade bed” to seemingly small things such as making sure pictures/art behind you aren’t hanging crookedly; that there are no half dead ficus trees or overflowing wastebaskets in the shot.

Position the computer so you are looking slightly up into the shot: As with any picture taking opportunity, we all look better when the camera is slightly above us rather than facing us head-on. (If you weren’t aware of this welcome to far better family/vacation/free-time photos)

Consider your lighting: Try to have diffuse lighting on both sides of you, rather than behind you (leaving your face in shadow and potentially hitting your audience in the eyes) or on just one side of you (leaving half your face in shadow– no doubt very artsy, but not appropriate in this context) Don’t have it be so dim you look like you’re in the witness protection program or so bright you look like you’ve spent the last few months growing mushrooms in the basement.

Wear blue: It’s the color we trust the most and it photographs best. Within the spectrum of possible shades of blue choose a cornflower or “French” blue.

Pause: As there is frequently a nano-second of lag time in between what you say and your contact’s receipt of it, plan to pause more frequently than you might in real- time.

Check yourself in Photo Booth: Mac has an application that allows you to photograph and video yourself. Double checking yourself this way has proved invaluable to me more times than I can count.

Happy Skyping!

Frances Cole Jones

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