How to prepare for a Video Author Visit (on Skype FaceTime or Google Hangouts)

Skype (or FaceTime or Google Hangout) visits are awesome, here’s how to make sure…

The students got to watch on a bigger screen than this!

The students got to watch on a bigger screen than this!

A successful Video visit is more of a conversation than a performance. When I come to your school or organization for a live event, I’m there in person. Video energy is completely different than face-to-face.

Advance preparation for a Video visit makes the session more effective.

One to Two weeks before the event

  1. Make sure the person/teacher in charge is on board. This seems to be obvious, but sometimes teachers are reluctant to share their classroom. If there’s a problem, have them talk with me. I’ll sweet talk them and make it work!
  2. If the lead teacher hasn’t selected a book (or books) for the event, get in touch ASAP. We always include a free book with an event, and can get physical books and ebooks to you for the teacher to read, and share with the class. Contact (Note: We’d love to provide books for the whole class, and can do so in advance at a discount.)
  3. Talk with the class about the book/story. Read it to them.
  4. Tell the class about me as an author. (There’s bio info here.)
  5. Invite the class to check out the Transmit Joy Website:
  6. Talk about the story/book

Helping Students create questions:

  • Ask the students to pretend they are new authors. What kind of questions would they ask an established author?
  • Ask students to create questions about the story or stories they’ve read/heard.
  • Discuss what makes a good question:
    • No simple yes or no ones
    • Discuss taboo questions: how much money do you make? personal questions about age
  • Assign students to put four questions in writing for homework.
  • Review the questions and vet for repeats, silliness and inappropriateness
  • Have students practice asking their questions.
    • Students should introduce themselves: “Good morning, Mr. Binder. My name is_____. I would like to know…” (etc.)
      This encourages politeness
    • This also gives you the opportunity to check their volume levels…
    • It also gives everyone a chance to speak, since sometimes because of time that won’t happen at the event.

The Monday Before the Visit (or at another scheduled time)

  • We must  be in touch on the phone and for a Video test call before the first event!
  • Technology is fickle. Please make sure we have the right information about what you’ve got.
  • Contact me for my Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangout ID
  • I’ll need your Skype/ID
  • We MUST do the Video test call!!!!!!
  • Check the audio:
    • Can you hear me? Make sure your external speakers are working
  • Can I hear you/Students?
    • You may need an external microphone
  • Check the video: Can you see me? What part of the class can I see?
  • If there are students with restricted video/internet privileges, is there a place in the room where they can see the screen, but not be on-camera?

One or two days before the visit

  1. Explain to class how Skype visits work: I’m a human being, not a television program. I can hear them. I can see them.
    1. I’ll be doing some talking, some reading, and some storytelling
      I wear a headset so they can hear me and I can have my hands free.
    2. I’ll be taking questions and answering them
    3. And then (time permitting) more talking, reading and storytelling
    4. Repeat until clock runs out!
  2.  Have the class practice asking questions
    • Speak loudly
    • Speak clearly
    • Speak slowly (but not too slow!)
  3. Be sure to tell them to laugh and clap and have fun!

On the day of the visit

  • Try to make sure no fire alarm has been scheduled
  • Make sure the classroom doors are closed to minimize noise and distractions
  • I’ll call in (or you’ll call in) 1-2 minutes before start time.
  • Have a cell phone handy. Once when the outgoing classroom sound didn’t work, I called the teacher’s cell phone, and the students used that as a microphone. It worked pretty well, considering.
  • Manage the students who are asking questions — have them line up or know their numbers so that we don’t waste time on those logistics. (I can’t see hands or point to the right person.)
  • Be sure to tell them to laugh and clap and have fun!

Thanks to Patricia Cronin of the Incarnation School for this model Skype Call outline