Author Topic: Thoughts on Skype.  (Read 2262 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Harriet

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 235
Thoughts on Skype.
« on: March 09, 2012, 08:17:33 PM »
I've had to be on Skype a lot lately as my husband is traveling, and its shortcomings as a communication medium are... glaring. Chats with the sweetie are one thing, but some places are relying on this for cross-country interviews and the like, which I think is potentially problematic! Of course, hopefully in that situation both people would be working with a better internet connection (husband is using a wireless dongle for the most part.)

I found myself wondering what real-life etiquette rules apply and which don't, and what new rules might be needed or helpful. So far I have:

1. Make sure your face is reasonably centered and that there isn't anything embarrassing in the background

2. If you're on a laptop or iPhone, try to put it on a stable surface / make sure you are actually in the freaking picture

3. Remove your glasses if you have them, otherwise the screen glare means the other person can't see your eyes. Put the window somewhere so your eyes are reasonably close to where the webcam is, otherwise it appears you are looking off to the left or right

4. It is rude to take a screengrab or record unless previously agreed upon

5. It is polite to alert the other person if there's anyone else in the room they can't see

6. Speak loudly and slowly. Variations on "What?" are really necessary

7. Recognize that normal facial cues and body language are reduced or none; you will be missing a lot of subtext, so conversations tend to be more superficial. The natural conversational flow is very altered. Don't be quick to take offense or get feelings hurt.

Question
1. If your call is cut off, who should ring who? If you both try at once, the call doesn't go through.

Would be interested to hear others' thoughts!


Ms Aspasia

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 570
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 08:35:14 PM »
That's an interesting topic, glad you raised it.  I think your ideas apply to video phone calls, but not necessarily to Skype which can be used in a non-visual mode. 

I would leave my eyeglasses on, otherwise there would be little point in me using a video phone call.  I wouldn't be able to see the other person at all. 

I look forward to other responses.

SisJackson

  • Wear Sunscreen!
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1421
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 09:22:28 PM »
After video chatting with my husband I suggest elevating the camera to eye-height or above - he uses a laptop with an integrated camera and the angle meant I started out looking up his nose.  Not the greatest view for something like an interview.  By all means, test out your arrangement in advance to make sure you look your best.

ilrag

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 748
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 09:26:06 PM »
I've done interviews and business "calls" on Skype and the best piece of advice I've heard is to look into where your camera is, not "into" the other person's face because it gives the illusion that you're making eye contact.

For informal family/friend calls I assume every little group has their own rules that work for them.

Nemesis

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 749
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 10:24:29 PM »
This is a really interesting topic!



1. Make sure your face is reasonably centered and that there isn't anything embarrassing in the background

2. If you're on a laptop or iPhone, try to put it on a stable surface / make sure you are actually in the freaking picture
Agreed. There is no point to the video call if you're not actually on screen.


3. Remove your glasses if you have them, otherwise the screen glare means the other person can't see your eyes. Put the window somewhere so your eyes are reasonably close to where the webcam is, otherwise it appears you are looking off to the left or right
Disagree. People who need glasses need them for a reason. There is no point to a video call if they can't see you. To avoid screen glare, make sure the room has sufficient illumination. If this is not possible, Stick to chatting on the text box or voice-only calls.

4. It is rude to take a screengrab or record unless previously agreed upon

5. It is polite to alert the other person if there's anyone else in the room they can't see
Completely and utterly agree. Especially for (5). And it is also polite to warn other people in the room that you are on Skype's video call. Sometimes, an introduction is also very polite.

6. Speak loudly and slowly. Variations on "What?" are really necessary
Not necessary. If the voice quality is poor, go back to text chatting.


7. Recognize that normal facial cues and body language are reduced or none; you will be missing a lot of subtext, so conversations tend to be more superficial. The natural conversational flow is very altered. Don't be quick to take offense or get feelings hurt.
Unfortunately, many people don't realise this. Which is why I stopped video chatting with my mother.


Question
1. If your call is cut off, who should ring who? If you both try at once, the call doesn't go through.

Would be interested to hear others' thoughts!

The one who made the initial call should call back.

Onyx_TKD

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1340
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2012, 01:49:27 AM »
Agreed. There is no point to the video call if you're not actually on screen.

Nitpick: A video call can be useful for things other than letting the people see each other's faces. For instance, when I needed to ship a bicycle long-distance, my bike-savvy brother helped me disassemble and pack it (in person), and when it arrived at the other end, we reassembled it "together" over Skype.  ;D It worked great; I moved the laptop so that he could see whatever part of the bike I was working on (or both me and the bike, where possible) and he was able to walk me through reassembling everything we'd disassembled and making all the necessary adjustments. Plus, I could easily chat with him and my mom while having both hands free to work on the bike.

I've had to be on Skype a lot lately as my husband is traveling, and its shortcomings as a communication medium are... glaring. Chats with the sweetie are one thing, but some places are relying on this for cross-country interviews and the like, which I think is potentially problematic! Of course, hopefully in that situation both people would be working with a better internet connection (husband is using a wireless dongle for the most part.)

[snip]

7. Recognize that normal facial cues and body language are reduced or none; you will be missing a lot of subtext, so conversations tend to be more superficial. The natural conversational flow is very altered. Don't be quick to take offense or get feelings hurt.

Maybe I've just used Skype enough to get used to it, but I wonder whether your problems are really due to Skype or if it's your internet connection and/or webcam/microphone. Barring internet connection issues, when I make a call on Skype, I am pretty much just talking to my computer as if the person on the other end were in the room. The major difference is making sure that the camera is aimed correctly if we're using the video function. I have a good built-in microphone and just speaking to the computer in a normal conversational tone is usually sufficient. We occasionally have to repeat something, but no more than in a normal phone conversation. I'm also not sure how facial cues are reduced when Skyping as long as the person's face is visible on the screen. That's certainly a problem if the video is stalling/freezing/lagging, but that's a problem with the connection, not an inherent problem with the medium. Besides, most people are quite accustomed to phone conversations; Skype offers a lot more facial cues and body language than that.

Skype isn't perfect, but don't be too quick to write it off. It can be very nice when you have a good connection and good equipment. I'll sometimes use Skype to call actual phones when I expect a long chat, just because I find it more pleasant than using my cell phone for that long. If you're having problems with either the sound or the video, I'd try turning off the video and just having a voice chat. If the problem is a slow internet connection, then using video can make the sound quality suffer, too.

afbluebelle

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5361
  • Saving the world one squirrelbot at a time
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2012, 02:16:44 AM »
I'm not a fan of Skype, only because the rec room on deployments is used for movies, card games, and all sorts of stuff. I've had many a movie/poker tournament/video game interrupted because some jerk came into the room and told us all we had to leave to skype with Person At Home. There are wireless hotspots on base that have privacy, don't be a jerk and tick off 15-20 people just because you think you need absolute quiet.

Worse than that was the :mumble mumble: guy who shut off my laptop so he could try to get a better connection. He was not a happy camper once I was done with him.
My inner (r-word) is having a field day with this one.
-Love is Evol: Christopher Titus-

Ceallach

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4771
    • This Is It
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2012, 04:03:37 AM »
I love skype, it's amazing being able to connect with my relatives remotely, and my 3 year old nephew can show off to me.  Even my 6-monthy old niece waves at me and giggles when I talk to her through Skype!  I mainly use Skype to catch up with family, so most of the rules don't really apply.  I carry my laptop around the house with me while I do things.  It's more like actually being in the house together chatting.  Most of the time, yes I make sure I'm centred in the screen and looking at them while we talk.  However, I'll also cook dinner and do other little tasks that I'd do if family were visiting (while we chatted). 

I agree that the rules make sense for business communication. I personally dislike video calls for business though. 
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"


Twik

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 28458
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2012, 03:06:02 PM »

3. Remove your glasses if you have them, otherwise the screen glare means the other person can't see your eyes. Put the window somewhere so your eyes are reasonably close to where the webcam is, otherwise it appears you are looking off to the left or right

Sorry, but no. I'm not sure why the other person's right to see my eyes should supercede my right to see anything at all.


My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

rachellenore

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 126
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2012, 11:03:16 PM »
3. Remove your glasses if you have them, otherwise the screen glare means the other person can't see your eyes. Put the window somewhere so your eyes are reasonably close to where the webcam is, otherwise it appears you are looking off to the left or right

Agree with all of the others that this is a bad rule. I can't see my screen without my glasses on. Also never had a problem with glare and everyone I Skype with wears glasses.

I don't think there are really a lot of hard and fast rules, it depends completely on the situation and reason for the conversation. There can be a ton of different situations even with the same person.  I guess my only universal preference is that the mics and/or video feeds turn off when someone is eating. Eating in person with someone is different compared to a mic amplifying chewing sounds.

blarg314

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8473
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2012, 01:07:14 AM »

I use Skype a lot for work related calls - typically meetings that involve people in multiple locations.  It has some real advantages. There's no way I'm going to be able to meet with certain groups more than once every couple of years, due to travel expense. And while our office has a video conferencing system it has only one; there's a pretty good chance that someone else will want it when you need it. Plus, Skype can be done for meetings outside of office hours.  For example - one of my monthly meetings involves people in Asia, Hawaii, east and west coast North America and Europe. They cycle the times so that the middle of the night meeting only falls at most 1 out of 3 times, but I still end up with meetings from 9-11 at night, or at 7 in the morning.

In order for it to be effective, though, you need to be in a location that is fairly quiet (otherwise people can't understand you) and private (it's really annoying working while someone in your office has a 2 hour conference call). Other than that, for meetings the important things are

- Mute the call when you aren't speaking, to cut down on background noise.
- Turn off the video and mute if you need to leave for a while.
- Don't let your kids play with the system if you leave the room.
- Speak clearly and slowly. Use a microphone headset if you're the only one on the call, or a good quality external mike if not.
- Center the frame well - it works better if the camera is a little back from your face, rather than really close.
- IN the case of a dropped connection, the person who made the call in the first place should call back.

Ceallach

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4771
    • This Is It
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2012, 07:54:42 PM »

3. Remove your glasses if you have them, otherwise the screen glare means the other person can't see your eyes. Put the window somewhere so your eyes are reasonably close to where the webcam is, otherwise it appears you are looking off to the left or right

Sorry, but no. I'm not sure why the other person's right to see my eyes should supercede my right to see anything at all.

Thinking about it, I realised I've never had this problem.  I wonder if it's more to do with the lighting/background and camera quality?   

I guess if somebody sat with their back to a window so there was light streaming through or something along those lines.   But I skype with my mum who wears glasses and can definitely see her eyes.  And I'm fairly sure my family can see my eyes when we're skyping because I've been asked what I'm looking at when I glance at something else on my screen (without moving my head!)
"Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something"


jedikaiti

  • Swiss Army Nerd
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2732
  • A pie in the hand is worth two in the mail.
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2012, 08:54:16 PM »
I wear glasses and have never had glare issues when using video, but then the bigger problem is usually making sure there is ENOUGH light to begin with. So my suggested guideline is:

Just because there's enough light to work by doesn't mean there's enough light for the other person to SEE you. Especially if the light is directly behind you.
What part of v_e = \sqrt{\frac{2GM}{r}} don't you understand? It's only rocket science!

"The problem with re-examining your brilliant ideas is that more often than not, you discover they are the intellectual equivalent of saying, 'Hold my beer and watch this!'" - Cindy Couture

Harriet

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 235
Re: Thoughts on Skype.
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2012, 02:47:56 PM »

3. Remove your glasses if you have them, otherwise the screen glare means the other person can't see your eyes. Put the window somewhere so your eyes are reasonably close to where the webcam is, otherwise it appears you are looking off to the left or right

Sorry, but no. I'm not sure why the other person's right to see my eyes should supercede my right to see anything at all.

I'm the OP. It's really interesting reading other people's experiences with this!

I definitely knew my list was a working one, maybe the glasses "rule" is a me-only problem. I've used different computers and lighting setups, but always have a square monitor reflection in each eyeglass, like my pupils have turned into glowing boxes!! It's actually completely distracting not just for the other person (I assume) but for me as well, since I see a little thumbnail of my face in the screen. If it couldn't be reduced/eliminated, I think it would make for a difficult job interview, for example. But I totally agree removing glasses isn't always an option.


[snip]

7. Recognize that normal facial cues and body language are reduced or none; you will be missing a lot of subtext, so conversations tend to be more superficial. The natural conversational flow is very altered. Don't be quick to take offense or get feelings hurt.

Maybe I've just used Skype enough to get used to it, but I wonder whether your problems are really due to Skype or if it's your internet connection and/or webcam/microphone.
[snip]
 Besides, most people are quite accustomed to phone conversations; Skype offers a lot more facial cues and body language than that.

Skype isn't perfect, but don't be too quick to write it off. It can be very nice when you have a good connection and good equipment.
[snip]

Yes, usually our internet connection isn't great -- the at-home one is fine, but the 3g one is spotty. I guess I was using "Skype" to mean video chatting in general -- will modify my post title if I can figure out how! I definitely am glad video chatting exists -- it's a lot more like being with the person than a regular phone call, but I had to realize that it ISN'T being with the person, and there are some important things missing in a video chat interaction vs. real life (again, more or less so depending on connection quality.) Also, you don't always know what kind of call you're going to get until you start. So you have to be prepared to have a good, quality conversation or to appreciate the quick n choppy "hello love you" plus pixellated smile followed by disconnection you might get instead.

Maybe the rule could be modified to include something like: rolling with it.