Now with dating while distancing on most singles’ minds, doing a video call before deciding to meet someone is quickly becoming the new norm.
And while it’s not something you may have considered doing before, investing time in a video “pre-date” with your matches actually pays off in 3 different ways:
#1: You’ll see your match’s actual appearance, and get a more accurate feel for their personality.
Video calls are an excellent way to further screen your matches, and save the time, expense and awkwardness of meeting someone you quickly realize you’d never be interested in dating.
You’ve likely had at least one dating experience where the person who walked into the coffee shop to meet you looked very different from their pictures. In a video chat, you’ll get to see what they really look like IRL!
Plus, a “real-time” interaction is generally a more accurate predictor of whether or not you’ll have chemistry than a handful of photos and a profile.
Conversational skills, how someone carries themselves, even how their voice and laugh sound – those can all have a significant impact on how attracted you are to someone. If you’re not feeling it after your video pre-date, you likely won’t be feeling it after a first date either.
#2: Having that first real-life conversation out of the way will likely translate into a more relaxed and casual in-person date.
Since you’ve already spent time getting to know your match and built up enough chemistry to actually meet in person, you’re walking in to the date with the confidence that your match is genuinely interested in you.
#3: It’s a faster way to get to know someone.
If you haven’t mastered the art of the online dating conversation, exchanging messages on a dating app or site can take days – and sometimes longer – before your match feels comfortable taking things offline. And it’s the same way via text.
Without the benefit of visual cues and voice inflections, it’s a one-dimensional communication experience. It’s also very calculated in that you have time to carefully choose each word you’re going to send.
Once you’ve ignited that basic spark, a video chat is the perfect way to inject some authenticity and establish trust.
Because it’s a “live” conversation in real time, you’ll get a glimpse of your match’s true self – how their mind works, what they find funny, how they interact with you, etc.
All that being said, video calls will only work to your advantage if you also make a good impression on your match! It’s not just a video call – it’s your first impression – so you’ll want to put some effort into preparing for it.
In a lot of ways the pre-date is similar to an on-camera job interview. You’re about to market yourself, just to a potential partner rather than a prospective employer.
Sure, you can wing it and hope all goes well. But if you’re serious about meeting someone, a little prep work up front will help you secure dates with the caliber of matches you’d consider relationship worthy.
Nervous? You're not alone.
According to a Hinge survey, 58% of respondents said the fear of awkwardness was their #1 reason for not video dating. But 81% of singles who tried video dating reported very little or no awkwardness at all during the call.
These actionable tips and expert advice will help you look good and feel confident on a video chat – and keep the attraction building until you’re both ready to meet in person!
The Pre-Date Strategy: How To Ask Someone To Do A Video Call
Transitioning from messaging on a dating site or app to a phone call or text exchange is a natural progression, and for most singles the next step is the in-person date.
But adding a pre-date before your “real” date fits into that natural progression perfectly, because it’s a stage that still makes your relationship feel like it’s evolving.
One highly effective strategy is to first ask your match for a phone number during the online dating message exchange.
Then, during the phone call, suggest chatting on Zoom, Skype or Facetime before the first date. As with any online dating conversation, you’ll want to nail the timing of your “ask.”
There are two effective routes you can take:
A) Suggest a video call at the very beginning of your phone conversation
B) Suggest it as your phone conversation is wrapping up
Strategy A: Suggesting A Video Chat At The Beginning Of Your Call
First, make sure you’re “camera ready” before calling your match on the phone. You’ll find plenty of advice on how to prepare for your video call coming up.
Once they’re on the line, ask right away if they happen to have Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. If they do, you can use a script like this:
If your match shows any hesitation about doing a video call right that moment, simply say something like:
And then just continue your phone conversation. If you get the sense that your match is opposed to the idea of a video call in general, just stick with phone conversations and suggest an in-person date later on.
But if your match only seemed uncomfortable with the idea of a video date *right now*, then bring it back up at the end of your phone call. If your match seems open to scheduling it, suggest a day and time for it, and agree on the app that will work best.
You’re setting up your pre-date, so your goal is to get something on the proverbial calendar, just like if you were setting up an in-person date.
Strategy B: Suggesting A Video Chat At The End Of Your Call
If you want to wait until the end of your phone conversation to propose a pre-date, try one of these lines:
If you don’t have an iPhone, you can swap FaceTime out with another popular video chat platform like Zoom, Duo or WhatsApp.
Whichever strategy you employ, keep in mind your pre-date is the first occasion where you’ll actually see each other in real time, so you want every opportunity to make a solid first impression.
Plan Ahead: 5 Ways To Prepare For Your Pre-Date – And Impress Your Match
#1: Have A Go-To Spot In Mind For Your Video Call
Whether you’re using the in-app video chat platform, or just want to transition from message exchange or phone call to Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or Whatsapp, location is key.
It’s helpful to have an optimal location in mind beforehand, and make a few strategic changes to your environment, especially if you’re going to be using your computer’s webcam.
Consider these 3 essential things when choosing where to have your video call:
The Lighting Situation
Natural light is generally the most flattering, but stepping outside for your video call may not be practical. Traffic noise, wind, barking dogs and other distracting background noise can make it difficult for the other person to focus on what you’re saying – or even hear you at all.
Indoors, choose a brightly lit room, and a location within it where your face isn’t cast in shadow. And if you’re on your laptop or desktop, be mindful of your backdrop.
For instance, if you sit in front of a window with sunshine streaming in, your match may have a hard time seeing you. Sit near the window instead, so your face is well lit instead of backlit.
For maximum effect, position a lighting source in front of you, and experiment with the angle. If it’s shining up at you, it may cause unflattering shadows. Fire up your webcam or phone video so you can test how you look on screen, and adjust the light source as necessary.
If you’re going to be video calling on your phone, consider investing in one of the many devices that allow you to prop it up, so you can strategically “shelf” your phone and do the call hands-free. In a pinch, a few books can also get the job done.
The pre-date is important because you’ll be seeing each other “live” for the first time, and you want to start building some chemistry. Seemingly little details can derail that process, so you want to control as much of the environment as possible.
Eliminate as many potential disruptions as you can, so that you don’t inadvertently give your match the perception he or she is competing for your attention.
Choose a location that’s quiet. If you can help it, avoid barking dogs, blaring TVs and kids screaming in the background. If you’re in a situation where there are roommates or children in your household, try to choose a time when they’re not likely to interrupt your conversation.
What’s Visible To Your Match
Just like in a dating photo, your match is likely going to notice everything that’s visible during your call – and that’s going to inform their impression of you.
For instance, let’s say you’re video chatting in your home office. In the background is a well-stocked bookshelf, a healthy potted plant, and some framed artwork. Your match will likely intuit that you’ve got an intellectual side, you’re organized enough to keep a plant happy and you care about the impression your home is making on others.
On the other side of the coin, if your backdrop is a dirty, smudged bare wall, empty takeout containers and a tower of Mountain Dew cans, your match will likely make some very different assumptions about the kind of life you lead.
Take a moment to evaluate what will be visible on the screen, and make adjustments as necessary.
#2: Refresh Your Memory
Before hopping on your video call, give your match’s profile and your message history a quick skim. You can even jot down a “cheat sheet” of hobbies and topics that are of interest both to you and your match.
Come up with a few questions you can ask your match based on their profile, and keeping the conversation flowing won’t be hard. That’s key, because 74% of singles identified conversation as the #1 indicator of chemistry.
Just make sure you ask the questions at a natural spot in the conversation. Don’t switch into “interview mode” and give the impression you’re checking off questions on a list. Just make sure you ask the questions at a natural spot in the conversation, as you don’t want your date to feel like it’s an interview.
Not everyone is naturally good at small talk, and if that’s an area you struggle with, you may benefit from making a cheat sheet of your own.
Write down a few key things you love about your job, interesting hobbies you have, even the name of the last great restaurant you checked out. That way, if your mind blanks and you can’t think of even the simplest of details, you have no reason to panic. Just glance at your list!
One thing you *don’t* want to do is pre-plan exactly what you want to say, for instance, by memorizing an anecdote or a joke. You want to tell your story, but in a way that seems authentic and unrehearsed.
Don’t worry if you make a mistake, like stumbling over a word or mispronouncing one because you’re nervous. It happens to everyone, and you’ll seem more relatable and genuine than you would if you delivered a perfectly scripted monologue.
#3: Appearances Matter
You’re not meeting your match in person, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat it like a real first date. While you don’t need to look like you’re about to head off to prom, you still need to give the impression you care about how you present yourself.
It’s not a bad idea to brush your teeth right before the call. Being 100% certain you’ve got nothing stuck in your teeth is one less thing you need to worry about while you’re talking.
As far as what to wear, remember that your clothing speaks volumes about you. Choose an outfit that’s well-fitting, stain & wrinkle free and in good shape. Decent pants are mandatory even if you’re sitting down – you don’t want to embarrass yourself if you have to suddenly stand up.
You’ll also want to dress for the camera. Solid colors tend to be less distracting than busy patterns – especially stripes. Stay away from fluorescent colors, t-shirts with slogans on them, large logos, etc. Anything that’s going to repeatedly draw your match’s eye isn’t ideal for a video chat, because the focus should be on you – not your clothes.
Also, make sure whatever you wear looks good against the background of your chosen location. The last thing you want to do is blend into it and look like a floating head.
#4: Have A Glass Of Water Handy
Depending on how long your conversation lasts, you may find yourself with a dry mouth or throat – and few things are worse than desperately needing water you don’t have while conversing with someone new.
Plus, taking a sip of water is a perfect way to buy yourself a few seconds to gather your thoughts or transition to a different conversational topic. It’s not a bad idea to have a napkin or tissue handy either, just in case.
#5: Get Your Angle Right
If you plan to use your laptop or desktop for video calling, an external webcam will give you more control over the angle and position. Eye level is best.
If you are using the built-in camera, try to position your body or your laptop so that it aligns with your eyes. Then, as you’re chatting, look directly at the camera. This will give the illusion of direct eye contact.
You want to avoid having the camera positioned too high, or below your face and angled up, as that will cause your face and upper body to appear more prominent. It’s also less than ideal to make eye contact by looking down.
If you’re using your phone, experiment with the most flattering angles to hold it during your conversation, so that by the time you’re video chatting with a match the optimal positioning of your phone is already second nature.
Right before your call, it’s a good idea to do a quick camera check just to make sure everything is working correctly and looks good on the screen.
The Main Event: 9 Skype & Facetime Date Tips
You’ve done your prep work and know how to look good for a video call date.
Here are 9 things you should do (and not do) during a video call with a match:
#1: Be mindful of your body language.
Good posture radiates confidence, as does strong eye contact. Slumping, on the other hand, can make you seem low energy and uninterested.
#2: Subtly mirror your match’s body language.
This is an effective sales technique because it subconsciously makes the other person feel more relaxed and comfortable with you – and it works just as well for video chats!
The key is to do it subtly, like if she leans back, then you do the same. But don’t copy *every* gesture. If you cross the line into mimicry, your match will likely notice.
#3: Be positive.
Complaints about your day, things you don’t like, past relationship drama… Just don’t go there. Focus on what you bring to the table and what makes you happy, and your match is much more likely to say yes to meeting again.
#4: Wear headphones.
If you have headphones, use them. Relying on the built-in speaker and microphones can result in annoying feedback on your match’s end, or even worse – an obnoxious echo.
#5: Don’t chew gum (or eat).
Watching – and hearing – someone chew or move a cough drop around their mouth is distracting and off-putting.
And eating during a video call is just rude. The exception of course is if you're both eating. For instance, it's a planned video date where you're enjoying a meal together.
#6: Avoid staring at yourself.
If you can’t resist the urge to check yourself out, shrink that square as much as possible or remove it entirely from the screen.
#7: Resist the urge to fidget.
A lot of movement will be just as distracting on camera as it would be in an actual face-to-face conversation.
#8: Don’t fear “awkward” silences.
Conversations have a natural ebb and flow, and moments of silence are part of that cycle.
Don’t blurt something out just to fill one! Focus on what your match is saying, and use that to move the conversation forward in a way that feels like the two of you are truly connecting.
#9: Wrap things up on a high note.
It’s better to end your video chat while things are going great – that way she’s looking forward to interacting with you again.
With more and more people pushing for authenticity in online dating, video calls are here to stay – and they’re only going to get more popular.
Thanks to this expert advice, you’ve got the tools you need to be ready for modern dating’s newest twist!