Freelancing progress has been slow since I last reported to you, so I’ll distract you with my lovely iPhone photos (downtown waterfront, Padres fireworks, Mission Bay):
BUT! This morning a potential Elance client emailed me to request a Skype call! The project is right up my alley — rewriting a photographer’s website. His time zone is 8 hours ahead of mine, so to work around my day job I have to call him at 6:30am. And because it’s a video call, I have to get up super early to look presentable. Ugh. But it’ll be worth it if I’m hired.
Tonight I’ll review my portfolio and prepare answers to expected questions. I wonder whether I’ll have difficulty understanding an accented voice over a digital connection. Oh and I hope this cold/cough I’ve had all weekend subsides by then. Otherwise, I’m comfortable with Skype after using it recently for fun (hi Em & Lindsey!) and for a full-time job interview a few years ago.
Here are my main tips for a business call or interview on Skype:
- Camera angle: Set the webcam at or slightly above eye level for a flattering angle. For me, this means propping my Macbook on a shoebox on the dining table. I like to sit so the camera can see from above my head to below my shoulders. If you sit any closer, it looks too intimate (or like a myspace photo).
- Lighting: Webcams need lots of light to record well. Position the light so it’s shining on your face, not behind you. I plan to face a big window for flattering daylight. If it’s night, use bright lamps at eye level — overhead lights cause harsh shadows.
- Clothing: Avoid red (shows up like a glowing blob) and thin stripes (they “vibrate” onscreen). Choose a higher neckline so that your shirt doesn’t disappear below the screen. Comfy pants are tempting, but you should wear nice pants in case you have to stand up to grab notes or coffee.
- Speaking: Talk slower to compensate for lag and poor audio quality. Don’t speak over the other person as you would in a normal conversation, because overlapping voices tend to cause the audio stream to blank out.
- Sound: Close windows and doors and ask family/roommates to stay quiet while you’re on the call. Consider using a microphone headset if your built-in mic isn’t that great. Mine is decent close up, but gets worse when you sit farther away.
- Eye contact: Your caller’s face onscreen is lower than the webcam, so when you look at their eyes it seems like you’re looking down. The best advice I’ve read is to alternate views: look directly at the webcam while you talk, and look at their face while they talk.
- Notes: You can’t check info on your computer without looking weird. So print any reference materials ahead of time, and keep a notebook and pen in reach.
That list got longer than I expected… but I hope these tips help you someday. And I hope they help me tomorrow — wish me luck!