As it happens, there aren’t many hard-and-fast rules when it comes to random video chats. As long as people avoid being overly harsh, negative, or inappropriate, pretty much anything goes.
That might be reassuring for video chat novices, but it isn’t all that helpful. Fear not! If you keep reading, you’ll know exactly where to start. Not only will you feel more comfortable during your first few chats, but you’ll be able to experiment with different topics and strategies. By the time you’ve tried a few of them out, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which ones work best for you.
Be friendly and think positive
This should be a given, but there’s no harm in mentioning it anyway. When you start a chat, tell the other person your name, and maybe mention whatever you feel like talking about. When you exchange names with someone else, it gives you an automatic connection that makes conversation easier.
Most people experience plenty of annoyances on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s from outdated plumbing or immature co-workers. Even if that’s the stuff that’s on your mind when you sit down for a video chat, it doesn’t exactly make for great conversation material. If you really need to get something off your chest, then go for it; otherwise, you’ll both have a better experience if you find something to talk about besides the negatives in your life.
Safety is important for any internet-based activity, and random video chats are no exception. Even though you’ll be making a lot of friends, it’s quite possible that a few of the people you talk with are actually identity thieves or scammers. Just keep that thought in the back of your mind as you go from chat to chat.
When you introduce yourself, for example, just state your first name. There’s really no reason to say your last name, plus that can be a starting point for identity theft. Other things to avoid mentioning are your address, contact information, and where you work or go to school.
Don’t let this scare you away from video chatting, though! By and large, most of the people you talk with will be perfectly friendly.
Don’t be afraid to take the lead
Even if you aren’t a natural conversationalist, random video chats are a great way to work on your social skills. This is your time to shine! There are any number of things you could suggest – games, challenges, contests, etc.
For games, you could play Charades, 20 Questions, or Truth or Dare. These games don’t really require props, and the rules are easy to learn if the other person doesn’t already know them.
Challenges could be anything you can think of, like “how long can you balance a pencil on your nose?”. Or one of the classics – “try to eat 6 saltines in under a minute”. Obviously, you should avoid things that are dangerous or harmful; fortunately, there are thousands of options that don’t involve ingesting Tide pods.
Contests are another way to get an interaction going. You could even raise the stakes if one of you can bring in a friend to act as the judge! Since neither of you are prepared for anything, in particular, keep the contests simple. Compete with each other to see who has the best dad joke, or come up with your most colorful, passive-aggressive insults. As long as everything is done in good fun, you’ll both have plenty of laughs.
Open your mind to talking about unfamiliar topics
Random video chats are awesome for making new friends, but most of these friends will be coming from all kinds of different backgrounds and cultures. As you spend time chatting with each other, you’ll both learn about viewpoints that you may have never thought of before. Even if you actually disagree with someone, it might still be worth your while to hear them out. You might end up learning something about your own opinions, even if you don’t really change them that much.
Cultural differences can actually be really cool to learn about. You might end up learning so much about a certain culture; you almost feel like you’ve visited the country! On the flip side of that, a lot of people who live outside of the US are fascinated by North American culture. You could be their window into things like famous national monuments, their celebrity crushes, or American cuisine.
Look for opportunities to learn new skills
You never know when you could pick up a handy little fact; if you can get someone to actually teach you a new skill, so much the better! It doesn’t even have to be useful. Maybe you’re interested in learning a couple of card tricks or origami. That just takes a few minutes to demonstrate, after which you can perfect it on your own. Even though you could have learned through a simple internet search, it’s always cooler to learn from a real human being.
Video chats can also be a decent resource for when you actually need some help. For example, “my aunt is coming in three days, and I have to impress her with my tortillas!”. Random video chats will come to the rescue, with all kinds of tips that’ll give you the perfect tortillas your aunt could wish for.
Throw in a few wildcards
If you have a quirky sense of humor, maybe you won’t feel like playing it straight all the time. Pretend that you’re in a wacky scenario, and you need the other person’s help to get out of it. Or, talk in an obviously fake and exaggerated accent, a la Monty Python. Not only will you prompt some giggles, but you might also even find someone with the same sense of humor who’ll play along.
How many ideas do you have now?
The sky’s the limit with what you do in a random video chat. Just be yourself, get creative, and have fun!