Random video chatting isn’t that complicated, but there are still quite a few ways to shoot yourself in the foot. If you aren’t already familiar with some practical ground rules, you might get frustrated with the whole experience and decide that it isn’t worth the effort. While it’s true that random video chatting isn’t for everyone, it’s possible that you’re just making some rookie mistakes – in which case, wouldn’t it be better to fix your approach instead of looking for another source of entertainment?
On a site like Camsurf that’s built for random chatters of all experience levels, you can find some people who look like they’re broadcasting from a windowless basement, and some who look like they’re personal proteges of Martha Stewart. There are people from dozens of different countries, and you can hear about matters from thousands of different perspectives. So where do you fit into all of this? Ultimately, you’re the only one who can find your groove in a random chat community – but once you get these five tips under your belt, you’ll be a lot better prepared the next time you open up a random video chat.
Tip #1: Come up with some conversation topics beforehand so you’ll be an entertaining chat partner
Unless you’re already a gifted conversationalist, the chances are pretty high that you could start a video chat and draw a complete blank. A conversation should go two ways, so if you can’t supply your half, you’ll probably get skipped over for another chat partner.
Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid this scenario – just think of a few suggestions for how your conversation could go. It’ll probably work best if you stick with more generic topics, and if anything turns out to be controversial, do your part to keep everything chill.
Speaking of controversial, try suggesting a friendly debate. Everybody likes pizza, right? Argue about “deep dish vs. thin crust”, “is pineapple on pizza really that bad”, or “meat lover’s vs. supreme”.
If you wanted something simpler, just talk about your interests – DIY carpentry, fine wine, or travel through South America. Do a bit of impromptu show-and-tell with the last project you completed, or play a song on the instrument you’ve been learning. Even if neither of you are experts, it could still be engaging to talk about anything you enjoy doing.
Tip #2: Keep an open mind
Unless you’re on a really niche video chat site, you’ll come across people from all different backgrounds, religions, and viewpoints. If you want to avoid unpleasant confrontations, you’re going to have to be willing to listen to other people. Of course, if someone’s being rude or pushy about you thinking differently than them, it’s probably time for a new chat. Most of the time, though, the differences between you really aren’t that big, and if you take the time to hear them out, you might learn something you never thought of before.
Sometimes the differences will come simply from the fact that you don’t belong to the same nationality. For instance, most people assume that their country does everything best, whether that’s regarding military policies or the way they bake bread. If you hear about your country from, say, an Italian’s perspective, you might end up changing your viewpoint a bit.
Tip#3: Watch out for scammers
This one isn’t quite as fun, but it’s worth saying anyway. Some chatters don’t stick around because they’re genuinely interested in getting to know you; it’s because they’re genuinely interested in stealing your identity. The good news is, these kinds of people are easy to spot once you know what to look out for.
First of all, they’re usually really friendly. This is to lower your guard, so when they try to get your personal details, you’ll think to yourself “it’s fine, they’re really nice!”. They might ask about your last name, home address, where you work, or your personal contact information. Any of these things can be used to steal your identity, so if someone starts asking you for this kind of information, that’s a big red flag.
Of course, it’s possible that a chat partner might innocently ask one of these questions. For instance, say you’re talking about your family heritage and they volunteer their last name, then ask what yours is. Nothing will happen if you tell them that you’re at least half Greek, but keep your full name under wraps. If they’re legitimate, they won’t press the issue. If they try to weasel the information out of you, though, that’s just about the best confirmation you could get that you’re talking with a scammer.
Tip #4: Assume that most people have good intentions
Here’s the antidote to the last tip: most of the people on random chat sites are there for some friendly conversation. Even though it’s wise to keep an eye out for bad apples, that doesn’t mean that you should see every chat partner as a potential scammer. Let yourself loosen up and have fun – it’s always better that way.
Tip #5: Give your webcam presentation a mini makeover if needed
When you join a chat, what does the other person see? They won’t just observe your face, hair, and clothes; they’ll also notice your background, and everything will be either helped or hindered by the lighting. You don’t need to look like you’re fresh from a photoshoot, but it’s important to realize that if you don’t put any effort into your appearance, your chat partners will assume that you don’t really care. In other words, avoid extremes. Wear clothes that express your personality, but maybe not your personality on a Monday morning after a long weekend with friends. Make sure the lighting is flattering and not too harsh. Just experiment with what you already have, and you’ll eventually come up with a winning combination.
Now you’re good to go!
Which tip do you think will make the biggest difference in your video chats? Maybe it’s time to go see for yourself!