While there are many ways in which a class or other group can prepare for a skype visit with an author, here are five basic tips to get you started:
1) Introduce the students to the author prior to the visit.
The more familiar the students are with the author and their work, the more rewarding the skype visit is likely to be. While it is quite understandable that not every class will be able to read the author’s book(s) prior to a session, most authors at least have a webpage containing information about themselves that can be shared with students beforehand.
2) Would you like the author to give a presentation or have more of a Q&A time with them?
When you get in touch with an author to arrange a skype visit, it is a good idea to discuss with them what type of session you would like to have. Would you like them to primarily do a presentation, where they talk about themselves and their books and some aspect of writing? Or would you prefer more of a question and answer type visit where the students have more interaction with the author? Or perhaps some combination of the two? Deciding on the content of the skype visit in advance will help the author better prepare and make for a richer experience for everyone.
3) Have students prepare questions in advance.
If you decide you would like some Q&A time with the author, having students prepare their questions in advance usually works best. That gives the session more structure, avoids any awkward pauses or delays, and saves students from having to think up questions on the spot. The author doesn’t necessarily have to see the questions in advance (although that is always an option), but having the questions ready really helps.
4) Test your electronics beforehand.
It’s always good to test your electronic equipment—including both your webcam and microphone— prior to a visit. This will ensure everything is in proper working order and minimize any potential issues when the time for the skype visit arrives.
Also, while many webcams do have a built-in microphone, it can often be difficult to hear students speak if they are seated too far away. If possible, have a separate microphone instead with several feet of cable that is easy for students to pass around. Alternatively, have each student who is going to speak or ask a question move closer to the webcam first so that the audio will be as clear as possible.
5) Designate a leader.
Typically the person in charge will be the classroom teacher or librarian, but in situations where the students themselves have been tasked with running the show, it is still usually a good idea to have one person designated as being in charge of the skype session who will direct the other participants as needed. This helps the session flow more smoothly and also gives the author someone specific to whom they can direct any questions if necessary.
And, of course, have fun!
Visit us at Author Skype Club and book your visit today!