While there are plenty of conferencing solutions out there, few give teams breadth and depth of collaboration features that Skype for Business offers.
But while more businesses are turning to Skype, many struggle to utilize the tool effectively. This article looks at some of the features available when using Skype for Business, including some of our best tips and tricks for optimizing this terrific remote communications tool.
Using Skype for Business – Best Features
The Microsoft universe includes a suite of office communication and collaboration features. But adding Skype for Business means that the internet can finally leverage the Internet as a full-service communications tool.
Since Microsoft purchased Skype a few years ago, the platform has expanded from a consumer-only product to something that both businesses and individuals can use.
The latest configuration is Skype for Business Conversations, which features tighter integrations with Office 365. Now users can chat or set up a voice or video straight from their inbox. A simple click of a video or phone icon from the Outlook window places the call. You can even join a meeting in progress with one click. For more informal communications, there is the chat feature, which is a relatively new addition to the Office 365 ecosystem.
But before using Skype for Business, we recommend a few tips to maximize your technology:
1. Make sure your audio is set properly for the microphone and speakers you’ll be using.
2. If you’re using a laptop or desktop built-in camera, make sure the room is lit properly. Before the meeting, open the Skype webcam options and look at yourself to see how others will view you.
3. Also, turn off any other applications that you won’t need for the call.
4. We suggest using a headset to help reduce ambient noises.
Using Skype for Business is a crucial tool for today’s mobile workforce. Here are 10 tricks for using Skype more effectively for your business:
1. Directory Search is a feature that lets users search the global Skype directory and add contacts beyond your organization. In the past, connections could only be added if you knew the individual’s username.
2. Broadcast meetings help organizations create town hall-style meetings of up to 10,000 participants. It also lets you record the meeting and release it as an on-demand video within the Office 365 environment.
3. Share PowerPoint presentations to a Skype meeting – even one that’s already in progress. If you’re in slideshow mode, just click the “present online” tab. A drop-down box will list Skype for Business, allowing you to present the PowerPoint in a Skype meeting or as part of a conversation.
4. Portability means that Skype for Business travels well on any devices. Up to 250 co-workers can conduct meetings from their desktop, laptop, tablet, Android, or iOS device. You will need a solid internet connection for audio, video, or web conferencing.
5. Integration with your Outlook calendar is a terrific feature that allows users to schedule tasks and meetings, with a web scheduler for summarizing upcoming events. It also has a notes section for tasks or topics.
6. The dashboard control panel in Skype for Business helps you retain control of the meeting. You can mute people or block video or even invite people that were inadvertently left out of the original invitation. The dashboard is also very customizable, allowing users to set it up how they prefer.
7. In the same way you would get up and draw a concept on a whiteboard, Skype for Business now lets you do this on the screen and then share it with meeting participants. It’s a phenomenal feature that allows Q&A, an audience poll, or simply lets you share your thoughts visually with others in a meeting.
8. Record meetings by simply clicking an icon. Select the red symbol at the top of the screen so everyone in the meeting will see it’s being recorded. The recording is saved in an MP4 format and can be archived or set up as on-demand. To find the recording, start at the Skype for Business main screen, select the settings cog. Choose tools/recording manager from the drop-down.
9. Define contact relationships by naming them as:
--Colleagues that can view notes, your location, and all contact info.
--External contacts that can only see your name, title, email, company, and picture thumbnail during the Skype call.
--Friends and family who have permission to see your location and contact info.
--Workgroup that can see everything (except your home contact info) and can interrupt your do not disturb status.
--Blocked contacts are prevented from reaching you via Skype for Business.
9. Another cool Skype for Business tool is the transfer to mobile If a meeting is running long, but you have to jump in the car, you can transfer the meeting to your smart phone. Select “Settings, then tools/options/phones/mobile phone,” then enter your phone number with country/region code, and hit “okay.” Changing this setting will allow you to select the “Call Controls” button during a Skype for Business meeting, hit “Transfer,” and send the meeting to your phone.
Here’s a bonus tip for using Skype for Business effectively: Did you know it would let you send short videos to your contacts? You can right click on the person you want to send it to and select “Send Video Message.” You’ll see a small window pop up and your webcam should pick up your face. Click the red “Record” button and away you go.
Contact CWPS if you have questions about these or any of the other features found in Skype for Business. Like a lot of Microsoft tools, this communications feature continues to improve as it integrates more tightly with Office 365. We’re looking forward to the generation of improvements to this already excellent business tool.