Monday, August 02, 2010

Tips from a Skype Visit Rookie

Today, I had my very first Skype visit with readers. It was a delight to be a part of the end-of-summer festivities with readers in Cleveland, TN. The public library chose Autumn Winifred Oliver Does Things Different for its One Book/One Community program this summer - what an honor! It was a wonderful experience, and the Skype visit moved me far beyond the technology of MY era:

A few things I learned from this Skype visit:

-First, swap user names with the person on the other end prior to the event. This was librarian Andrew Hunt's idea, and it was a good one. He added my user name to his Skype address book before the event, and I added his to mine. This allows the caller to ring straight through, rather than us hunting for one another during the event.
-I'd heard to wear makeup (which I don't normally do!) and to be aware of my background. I did the interview in my office, where we have new (read: as-yet unfilled) bookshelves. Of course the kids asked about those empty bookcases! :-) Next visit I'll have all my books unpacked for sure.
-I had copies of Autumn Winifred Oliver and the cover for Selling Hope available to show them, but I didn't think to have copies of my activity books handy. I bring them to school visits, and sure enough, I could've used them during this interview.
-The library attendees could see me, but I couldn't see them. This was different from how I'd practiced using Skype prior to the event with my Dear Hubby. In that session, I could see him, too. Because I'm new to this technology, I wasn't aware that different users have different settings, so I was a little unprepared for this dynamic. It was like talking on the phone on my end, but they could see every movement of mine. It took a few minutes to get used to this.
-Because I couldn't see the participants on the other end, I had to listen very closely to the questions to hear them/know when they had been asked. Luckily, one of my childhood librarians, Kay Walker, moderated the event and she repeated many questions for me. Having this moderator moved things along much more smoothly, I believe.
-Our time was very limited (I had 15 minutes), so I quickly realized that I needed a "signal" of sorts to let them know I was done with my answer. (You'd think this wouldn't be an issue, but you don't see nonverbal cues too clearly via Skype.) So I started adding, "Thank you for asking that" at the end of each answer so they'd know to move to the next question.
-Look at the camera, not at your own image. Harder to do than it sounds! :-)
-WATER! Just like during school visits, you'll need water to whet the old whistle. I did not have this, and subsequently might've done the throat-clearing thing too much.

Have you done Skype visits? If so, please leave any and all tips in the comments section. It was a blast, and I'd love to do it again! It's a cost-effective way to be directly in touch with readers, which is one of my favorite aspects of this job.


Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Very cool, Kristin! I've never done one but I would love to. If I ever get one, I'll have to remember this post! Thanks for the excellent observations.

Kristin Tubb said...

Thanks, Vicky! It was a ton of fun, and very easy! It's amazing to think that just a few short years ago, the Internet didn't even exist! (Now I REALLY sound old! ;-) ) Skype is a great tool, and I hope to use it a lot. I'm not quite sure how to market the possibilities, tho - but that's for another post. :-)

Jessica Leader said...

These practical tips were very helpful, Kristin! Thanks so much for going into such detail! (I am sure I would fall prey to staring at myself and not at the camera, because that camera is so tiny!)

Lynelle Mason said...

Fascinating. There is something new in the field of marketing almot every week. I enjoyed your first Skype Visit... warts and all.Good luck to you in all your ventures.
Lynelle Mason

Kristin Tubb said...

Thanks, Lynelle! Skype is really cool, and so easy to use. I hope to use it often. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

Tracy Barrett said...

Kristin, how did you connect with the school? Was it through skypeanauthor? If not, which one of you suggested a Skype visit rather than an in-person one?

Kristin Tubb said...

Tracy, great question. The event was actually with the public library in Cleveland, TN. They chose AUTUMN for their One Book/One Community event this summer (amazing!), and I went to the kick-off event in May. They've been keeping me abreast of their events through the summer, and I think they were hesitant to ask me to come again for the finale event. So I offered to "attend" via Skype. The head librarian loved the idea. He was more familiar with the technology than I was, thank goodness. He walked me through a few things beforehand. I definitely want to do this again - it was great! And thanks for the tips via the listserv - very helpful!

Kristin Tubb said...

Jessica, yes! It's hard to remember to look into the camera. And to SMILE! :-)

SWK said...

What a cool experience! Nice to hear your tips. I've had a few authors tell me they send numbered bookmarks (or the like) to the library/school ahead of their Skype and draw a winning number for a signed book during the program to add another level of interactivity. Haven't done any virtual visits myself, yet, but I look forward to giving them a try! Thanks for your thoughts. - Stasia