Should you use Skype to communicate with your clients?

Skype is an online instant video service that allows you to have two-way visual communications with other users who also use Skype. All you need is a webcam and microphone and simply download a little applet and create a free account. It’s almost like instant messaging but with video. Depending upon the speed of your internet connection and your recipient’s connection, the quality of your video can range from highly pixelated to sluggish to delayed audio/video mismatch to good video and audio.

When all works well, you can get pretty clear audio and video that conveys more than text ever could. Before jumping in to use Skype to talk to your clients and potential clients, you need to have a firm grasp of what your clients expect of you and how they expected you to appear. Are they more concerned with your message, or are they more concerned with the appearance of the message? This is a very significant question and unless you can answer it clearly you may risk alienating the people you are trying to communicate with.

The first time I used Skype was when my wife and I were on vacation in the Bahamas and we wanted to communicate with the kids each night. Having our Macbook Pro laptop with built-in camera and microphone made it super easy to have person-to-person conversations with each of our kids with the press of a button. It was as if we were talking to them in person. It couldn’t have been easier and more pleasant. The second night we used Skype the wireless Internet connection in our hotel was lousy and our connection kept breaking up, becoming pixelated and very sluggish.

On the third night, the technology worked flawlessly.

Here are some observations about using Skype to communicate:

  1. You are at the mercy of the technical ability of your webcam when using Skype. Even with high definition webcams that are currently on the market, there is no way to obtain crystal-clear video quality especially since the type of lens that is used in a web cam is significantly less than you’d expect to see on a moderately priced video camera. The quality of the lens and image sensor is drastically different.
  2. Because the image capabilities of a webcam are nowhere near as good as a video camera, your lighting conditions twill make you look either ghastly green from fluorescent lighting, overexposed or underexposed. Rarely do you get good lighting exposure on a webcam.
  3. The audio quality does not suffer as badly, as long as the Internet connection is adequate.

That brings me back to why you are communicating with someone using Skype. Is it to explain to your ideal client how you can help them? Is it to talk to an existing client who already trusts you? Is it to someone who doesn’t know you and is simply kicking the tires to get information?

I think that for quick communications with your friends and family, Skype is a great tool that allows you to quickly see and hear who you are talking to. One major downside is that it also restricts you to having to sit in front of your computer where the glow of the computer screen  affects how the camera records your image. When you sit in front of the computer, your eyes are  reading and looking at images and text. That means your eyes are away from the camera lens and you always appear to be looking down. When you have a conversation with someone in person, if you were always looking down, the other person would think something was wrong and you were avoiding them.

Skype is a really cool technology. The best part about it is that it’s free for personal use. You can literally communicate with anyone in the world who has an Internet connection and is also a member on Skype. See for yourself.

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Gerry, I want to thank you, you’ve helped me – not just to use video that actually converts and gets me what I want from the video that I use on the web. You have consistently delivered information to very smart, very savvy businesspeople – lawyers and professionals – that they just rave about and that they are going to start implementing in the next couple days to radically change and transform how they deliver the value to clients and how they get paid for it. Gerry, thank you! Fantastic!

David Frees
Unruh, Turner, Burke & Frees