Even if you know nothing about random video chatting, you can at least glean some information from the name. It’s random, you do it via video (usually, anyway), and you chat with the people on the other end. What else is there to know? You don’t actually need much more information than that, but this doesn’t mean it wouldn’t still help.
Take a random chat site like Camsurf, for instance. The rules are simple, you don’t have to live up to that many expectations, and you can chat with as many people as you want. This setup gives you so much flexibility, it’s almost too much. Do you need a particular lighting system? Will the other chatters skip over you if you don’t look presentable enough? What can you do to make a chat more interesting? These are all things that you could figure out on your own, but you might as well learn about them here; then you can jump right into the chats without most of the usual beginner mistakes.
- Set some boundaries to protect yourself from scams.
Anyone with a phone can get fake calls from government agencies, dating website users can run into romance scammers, and anyone who’s random video chatting might meet someone who’s trying to steal their identity. Random chat sites typically don’t display your personal information to protect your anonymity, but they have one weakness – the users themselves.
People find it pretty easy to open up during video chats, and sometimes they can be tricked into revealing information like their full name, contact information, or address. Remember, identity scammers will present themselves like any other random chatter; the main difference will be their interest in your personal details. Sometimes a chat partner could innocently ask some of the same questions, but if they aren’t trying to scam you, they’ll respect your boundaries when you say that you don’t want to talk about it for safety reasons. A scammer, though, probably won’t give up that easily.
- Assume that any given random chatter has good intentions.
Even though you’re likely to run into a scam attempt or two if you video chat frequently, a good policy is to assume that any given chat partner is innocent until proven guilty. You’re perfectly safe as long as you make sure not to reveal any personal details, so you won’t be taking a risk if you let yourself stop and smell the flowers. If you never relax during your chat sessions, you’ll never be able to enjoy them properly; plus, it certainly won’t do your general view of humanity any favours if you spend all that time online being suspicious of scammers, instead of engaging with all the chatters who just want to have a good time.
- Have some fun ideas to contribute.
You can’t predict who you’ll get in the next random chat, but maybe you can predict what you’ll talk about – especially if you’re the one suggesting conversation topics. Your chat partner might have some ideas as well, so you can both take turns with your suggestions.
Some popular choices are to talk about your interests or do an impromptu show-and-tell with anything from your pets to your latest DIY project. If you wanted to get more imaginative, you could try planning your ideal road trips, or describe the kinds of houses you’d build if you had an unlimited budget and all the time you needed.
Prefer to stick with something more structured? Try some games, like “20 questions” or “two truths and a lie”. Games like these are pretty much guaranteed to give you some laughs, plus you can learn a few amusing facts about each other in the process.
- Get your lighting and background right.
Random video chatters definitely aren’t a demanding group of people when it comes to personal appearance, but at the same time, they’re constantly choosing which chat partners to stick with based on what appears on their screens. In other words, the standards aren’t that high, but you’ll probably get better results if you invest a little time in your webcam presentation.
Let’s assume that you already know how to brush your hair, and move onto the other factors that are a little more complicated: lighting and background.
Lighting is probably most important; it’s much easier to overlook a messy background than it is to ignore horrible lighting. If your light source has a bad angle, is too bright, or not bright enough, you could unknowingly create all kinds of bizarre effects for your chat partners. Fortunately, it doesn’t take a professional-grade lighting system to illuminate your video chats; just make sure that the light source is fairly diffuse, hits you at a flattering angle, and illuminates the space you’re in without washing anything out.
A video chatting background can be carefully put together, or it can consist of a living room with all the messes artfully concealed behind the couch. You could use it to show off a few prized possessions on some shelves behind you, or you could set up your webcam while you’re working on a tedious repair job in the garage. Just avoid clutter, and don’t show anything on-screen that you wouldn’t tell people yourself, like credit cards, or envelopes with your address on them.
- Keep an open mind.
You won’t just find variety in your chat partners’ cultural backgrounds, ages, or appearances; you’ll also meet people with various viewpoints on every subject you can imagine. Even if you disagree with them, it wouldn’t necessarily hurt to stick with the chat; you never know what you might end up learning.
These tips are plenty to get you started.
Who knows – you might formulate your own advice once you’ve built up some experience in video chatting. Above all, don’t forget that random video chatting is supposed to be entertaining! As long as you remember this, and keep a few common-sense boundaries in place, you’ll be golden.