So you have a SIP VideoPhone
and you know how to use it. Now, you need to be sure you are using it properly
and, more importantly, politely. No one wants to be an offensive, rude
videophone caller. Why? Because people can SEE you now and they are far more
likely to remember a face than just a voice. Please pay close attention to the
following lessons to avoid being called a "videophone villain."
Manners are important in communicating effectively with your SIP VideoPhone.
Follow the suggested code of behavior below and I guarantee you'll become the
most admired, sophisticated and civilized videophone caller on your block.
Lesson #1: TIMING OF A CALL
Never call before 10 a.m. or after 10 p.m. if you expect to video call
with anyone other than an intimate family member. Remember that most people are
vain and don't want to be seen in their bathrobes or pajamas, unshaven and/or
un-made-up. Be honest with yourself, you don't really want to see people until
they are ready to be seen, do you? Call during this 12-hour window of
opportunity, and you should be safe and sane.
The only exception to this rule is Christmas morning. Seeing loved ones
at dawn in their p.j.'s, wading through wrapping paper and stepping on tiny
Barbie doll accoutrements is what videophones were made for. Why should you
miss the traditional Yuletide dance of pain, even if you are thousands of miles
Lesson #2: WHAT YOU WEAR
Stripes are out, darling. Whites are out, too, no matter the season and
even if you are in the Navy. Busy patterns that look bad in person, are
frighteningly ugly during a video call. Avoid them at all costs, you silly
You should always check your appearance in the local view (the image of
yourself you see when you first pick up the phone) before you actually place a videophone
call. What you see, is what they'll get.
Remember to wear clothes that communicate, "I am happy to see you
and I respect your fashion sensibilities." Dark solids, generally, send
this message. If you are informed you are wearing something offensive to the
eyes of your caller, simply put on the privacy mode and do a quick change.
Lesson #3: LIGHTING & BACKGROUND
Remember the better lighting you have, the better the image that you will
transmit. Yeah, you may to turn on a lamp or two whenever you make a video
call. There's nothing worse than video-calling someone who looks like they are
in a dark cave. We all know that cave people didn't have time for videophones
as they were too busy dropping stones on their toes which, of course, led to
the invention of the squeal.
Try to emulate the set of your local TV news program, which means sitting
a proper distance from the camera and having appropriate lighting. Hint: You
probably won't need a script and a teleprompter.
As with camcorders, it is important that lighting come from behind the
videophone camera, and shine directly on the subject (you!). During the day,
you need to take into consideration windows and sliding glass doors for video
calls. If the videophone camera is pointed towards this brightly lit area, it
will be like looking into the sun for your caller. He or she is going to spend
the entire video call, squinting at you. It may be amusing at first to see your
friend squinting, but it will get old fast. Furthermore, surveys of Americans
between the ages of 24 and 35 tell us that squinters are boring and
Again, be sure to check your appearance in the local view before you
actually place a video call. What they'll see, is what you've lit.
Lesson #4: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Remember that you will never forget your first video call, so be kind and
supportive when you are video calling with videophone virgins. Be sure to have
a pleasant smile stuck on your face so your first-time video caller will
immediately understand that video calling is nothing to be afraid or ashamed
Lesson #5: INTRODUCTION RULES
Remember you will be seeing and meeting lots of new people now that you
have joined the growing legions of videophone owners. It is important to greet
people over the videophone properly. Good manners demand for videophone callers
on both sides to introduce everyone who is in the room, particularly those that
are hanging just outside of the camera's view and snickering at your image.
Lesson #6: GREETINGS
Remember that though you can't actually touch the person you are video calling,
you can and should still emulate a handshake or even a kiss. Obviously, a
simple wave or salute hello will work adequately for greetings, but I suggest
an open palm brought close to the camera and a quick double-pump of the hand
towards the camera will be much more rewarding: a virtual hi-five.
Emulating a kiss may be a bit trickier...A mouth too near to a camera is
almost always frightening. You may just want to blow a kiss. Another
suggestion, which young children have been known to do, is to plant your lips
on the TV screen where the beloved one's image is. This method, of course, will
require you to keep Windex and paper towels handy.
Lesson #7: BODY LANGUAGE
Remember that arms crossed over the chest and rolling eyes communicates
that you are not receptive to the sincere and heart-felt advice your in-laws
are offering you, free of charge. A serene smile and a papal nod is the
appropriate response to this kind of unsolicited advice.
Looking down, instead of into the camera, is a common etiquette error
that new video-callers make. Try to look directly into the camera and blink as
little as possible. Speak to the camera. As awkward as it might feel, it
transmits well. As Billy Crystal impersonating Fernando Lamas taught us,
"It's better to look good, than to feel good." Don't forget to show
off your pearly whites. You have a videophone because "you can't hear a
Be sure to use hand gestures and facial expressions as you would in a
face-to-face conversation. Don't be afraid go ahead and set yourself free. You
know you want to...some of you (mostly Italians like myself) have been using your
gestures during audio only calls for years. You've been unmercifully teased for
years. At last, you are free! Free to be your exuberant, expressive self. Go
for it. Enjoy. Ciao, baby!
Lesson #8: EATING & VIRTUAL DINNER DATING
Chomping on a slice of pizza or chewing a wad of Bazooka Joe bubble gum
is not the most attractive way to present yourself in person or via videophone.
Please avoid dining during video calls. It is, of course, always rude to eat in
front of someone else. This hard and fast rule may be broken when both parties
are partaking in the same food. The key here is "same food."
Obviously, it is in bad taste to be devouring a hot fudge sundae while the
person you are video calling with is dieting and limited to eating only
carrots. Remember, minding your manners is all about controlling your sadistic
Videophone virtual dinner dates are becoming as common as three-dollar
bills. Nevertheless, you may be asked to dine via videophone with the potential
Mr. or Ms. Right, or at least Mr. or Ms. Right-Now. You don't want to blow the
virtual date by being rude, as it will certainly hinder your chances for a real
date. Recommended: soft background music and fine wine. A toast to your
beautiful date would not be inappropriate as long as he or she has his or her
own glass of something. "Here's looking at you, kid" is always an
appropriate toast for any video date occasion. Or you could try this one,
"Are you looking at me? Are you looking at me?! You must be looking at
me...I 'm the only one here."
And, though you might not be able to "clink" after the toast, a
light tap of your glass against the glass of the camera lens or TV screen will
produce the same effect.
Lesson #9: BREAKING BAD PHONE HABITS
Remember, when you used to be able to pick your nose and carry on a phone
conversation? Oh, well, ah, I don't either. But if you have the inclination to
explore the olfactory orifice during a videophone, fight the temptation with
all your might. In addition to grossing out your caller, they might be running
the videophone through a VCR and recording your every move for later broadcast
on that program, American's Funniest Nose Picking Videophone Calls, currently
seen on the Discovery Channel.
Other objectionable habits from the bad old days of audio only calls:
crotch scratching or underwear rearranging. This kind of behavior with either
yourself or a partner will be considered uncouth by most parties that you are
video calling. Again, resist the temptation.
Other actions to avoid: yawning, stretching or checking your watch,
unless you want to give your caller the impression that to continue with this
call will require a cup of black coffee and frequent jabs from an electric
Lesson #10: JOB INTERVIEWS
Executive headhunters are now using videophones to interview perspective
candidates. If you are being interviewed, you should be seated comfortably and
confidently behind a desk, with your hands folded across a clean copy of your
resume. Avoid the temptation to only get half dressed. You never know when a
future employer may ask you to stand and do jumping jacks to show your ability
to follow instructions and demonstrate that you are physically fit. Not having
a pair of pants on will certainly count against you.
More and more individuals are being interviewed this way. Headhunters say
this is a cost-effective way to narrow the search down and save travel costs. A
person who handles himself well on a video call interview has a leg up on the
one who is intimidated by this technology. Again, as long as the leg up is
covered by clothing.
If you are interviewing a candidate, you're in the power seat, baby. Use
it! Never end a video interview without asking the job seeker to do some
jumping jacks for you. Then while they're exercising, play with your videophone’s
freeze frame feature. This is the best way to conduct an in-depth interview, I
Lesson #11: LEARN TO BE STILL & SPEAK CLEARLY
Don't fidget or rock back and forth. The more still you stay, the better
impression you will make. Remember to speak clearly and distinctly. If there is
more than one person with you, don't talk at the same time. This is a
cross-platform, cross-cultural form of etiquette that needs to be practiced
whether you are on a video call or not. Give the person you are calling a
chance to speak. In summation of this lesson, recall your Mother's loving words
of advice here, "Sit up. Sit still. Speak when you are spoken to!"
Lesson #12: HOW TO SAY GOOD BYE
A mumbled "bye" is not going to cut it in this day and age of
visual telecommunication. There's nothing more dissatisfying than a lousy good
bye. If you want people to continue to video-call you in the future, you will
need to improve your sign off.
Suggestions for augmenting your verbal adios:
1. The Basic
2. The Simple but Elegant
wave (hand slowly sways back and forth)
3. The Regal Wave (same as
#2, done with a serene smile)
4. The Goofy Wave (done with
tongue out, eyes crossed)
5. Thumbs up
6. Use the American Sign
Language sign "ILY", which means, "I Love You." (Thumb out,
index finger and pinkie up, two middle fingers down.)
Packet 8 FAQ