7 Tips for a Successful First Skype Date
How to make a good first impression on video chat.
Found someone who sounds awesome on paper...except she’s two states away? When you’re trying to date long-distance, it’s sometimes ideal to first meet by video before anyone invests time and money in schlepping out for a date. But how can you set the right mood for a successful first date when you’re meeting over something as impersonal as Skype?
Here are a few technical tips for success:
Dress for a first date. Whether in person or on screen, dressing up and looking your best is a part of the process. Whatever you’d wear on a first date—that’s what you should wear for a video date. I’ve heard that people sometimes wear PJ bottoms while being dressy from the waist up. While this may seem like a great (and comfortable) idea, it’s not really. Why? Practically speaking, you might want to get up! But mostly, when you dress up you feel better about yourself. Your best self is more likely to shine through if you’re looking your best.
Make sure you’re in a quiet room. It seems like this one would be obvious, but it’s not! I have heard stories of Skype dates that took place while people were walking, or sitting in a busy office, cafe or other shared space. It is SO distracting to have background noise and visuals while you’re trying to meet someone. When dating long-distance on a video call, it’s imperative that you have a space that is visually static free of background noise. Of course, when dating in person distractions are normal. But for video dates, that doesn’t work well. Find a quiet spot, preferably in your home. (And not while sitting on your bed—see next tip!) Find a desk, or a table and chair, with a pleasant, clean background.
Show off your good angles. I received a follow-up call from a client post skype date. She was turned off because the guy’s iPad had been propped up on the table and the angle of the camera gave her a nice view up his nose and of his (seemingly double) chin. Oy! Reminder: have your device camera level with your eyes. And when you find that flattering angle, don’t hold your device which will lead to a very shaky call. Definitely don’t walk and talk. Find a comfy seat and set up the camera angle just right.
Can you hear me now? Sometimes a video connection will lag. Here’s the trick: Put Skype on mute and use it for video only. Then use your cell phone (and a headset so you don’t have to hold the phone to your ear) to get a clear audio connection. This way, even if the video freezes, you won’t struggle to hear every other word. There is nothing more frustrating than hearing only part of a sentence and asking someone to repeat it three times, or pretending like you heard them when really you have no idea what they said. Use your video and a different audio source for the best results.
Look at the camera and remember to smile. While you may want to look at the other person on the screen the whole time, remember that in order for your eyes to appear like you are looking at your date, you need to look at the camera sometimes. It may take some getting used to. If this makes you uncomfortable, practice with a friend before your call so this isn’t the first time you’re doing it. And then while you’re balancing video, audio and where to look, remember to smile! There is often a lot going on, but a simple smile will help you relax, and can make the other person feel good when they look at you.
Mood lighting? No! In person, dim lighting can set the mood. On Skype, it makes the image pixelated and more difficult to see the person on the other side of the screen. On the other hand, don’t shine a lamp directly at your face, as that will wash you out. Make sure the room you are in has adequate lighting near your face without shining directly on you. We want you to shine, but not because of the lighting.
Keep expectations low. Don’t expect love at first sight. There is nothing that can replace sitting with someone in person. You can get a feel for someone over Skype, but it’s not an accurate or full representation. Feeling neutral after a Skype date is normal. You can either meet again via Skype (if it’s really long-distance) or, if you’re within driving distance, consider an in-person date to see if things improve when you’re face-to-face. Also, remember that even in-person first dates can bomb, and yet some of those couples end up married! Be generous with your judgment and try again if you’re feeling neutral.
May your video dates lead to successful in-person dates and may those lead to a happy long-term relationship!