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How to Use Skype for Business or Personal Use.

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Introduction

In the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, most countries are on lockdown to some degree. As a result, many businesses have been forced to cease operations and more workers than ever before are working from home. Aside from the effects on business, mandatory social distancing is effectively eliminating unnecessary face-to-face interactions, leaving people bored and lonely. Modern problems require modern solutions; virtual communication apps like Skype are the best modern solution for forced social isolation.

Skype has been around for the better part of two decades now, so you have most likely heard of it before at the least. However, knowing a service exists and knowing how and why to use that service are entirely different matters. We are here to help you navigate the world of Skype video conferencing. After reading this overview, you should have clear answers for important questions, such as:

  • “How do I set up a Skype conference call?
    • “What kind of camera do I need for Skype?”
    • “What is Office 365’s Skype for Business software?”
    • “What are the differences of Skype for Business vs. regular Skype?”

What is Skype?

Skype is a telecommunications app owned by Microsoft that works for video chats, calls, and instant messaging. It is compatible with Android and iOS, Windows, iPad OS, web browser, Amazon’s virtual voice assistant Alexa, and Xbox, and it can handle up to 50 participants in a single video call, making it great for business calls.

The app offers various features including call recording for when a proposed participant misses a meeting, it also has voice mail services, file-sharing capabilities, caller ID, and a split view mode, which helps keep conversations separate.

This app dates as far back as 2003, and over the years it has grown to become one of the most popular Internet calling apps. It is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to call people from anywhere in the world. Another feature that makes this app great is its accessibility; you can access the Skype app using your phone, tablets, computer systems, laptops, home phones, and even your TV and Xbox. This user-friendly app enables you to make video and audio calls within minutes of downloading it, but first, you’ll need to make sure you have everything required. If it’s on a laptop, PC or Desktop, you will need the latest version of its operating system whether it’s a Mac OS, Linux, or Windows. Most phones have the ability to run Skype and even Apple products like the iPad, iPhones, and iTouches all have the ability to run Skype.

Other devices can run a special program called Skype mobile, and the Panasonic plasma and Samsung LED TVs can also run the app.

If you’re downloading the app to make just voice calls then you’re set, but if you intend to use features like video calling then you must ensure that your device has a webcam. If your computer doesn’t have an in-built webcam, you will need to get one that is compatible with it. It is always best to go for better models even though they might be expensive, because they offer better video quality, also, if you intend to use your TV for these calls, you will need to buy a special webcam.

An important component for effective functionality is a fast internet connection, you can also make calls without a Skype app but you will need a Skype Credit account that can be gotten using a credit card or PayPal. Once you’ve got all your components ready, the next step is setting up your Skype account.

  • First, you will need to download the app on your device. Go to the Skype website and click on the ‘Download Skype’ or ‘get Skype’ icon. You can choose to get the free version or Skype Premium which allows you to send instant messages, file share, share your screen and make video calls with other Skype users for free.
  • Once you’ve downloaded the app, the next step that automatically follows is setting up an account. You will receive a prompt asking you to create a Skype username and password, this Skype username is what essentially serves as your phone number, and you can sign up with your email address or phone number.

You will also be asked to fill out basic information about yourself, this information can either be visible to the public (this includes anyone using Skype), private, or visible to your friends alone. Your Skype name, age, language, and location are, however, always public. You can upload an image as a profile picture by clicking on the silhouette icon, you can also link your Skype account with your Facebook account by choosing ‘Facebook’ in the ‘view’ menu and ‘connect to Facebook’. You may be prompted to add an “echo/sound test service” to your contacts. This option is a good way to ensure your account is set up properly.

  • If you already have an account, you can log in with your Skype username, email, or phone number and access your account. You can add your friend and family.

Skype will ask if you want to import your existing contacts if you already have some set up on your Microsoft account, doing so will automatically fill out your contact list.

How to Skype Conference Call

Starting a Skype Conference call does not require any additional software, once you have the Skype app and a Windows or Mac PC, you’re ready to go. You can use the Skype Conference call feature using any of your devices around the globe once you have a Skype account. Conference calls on Skype are able to connect you with dozens of people in just a few clicks, but these calls can only be shared between Skype customers for free. For users who are not on Skype, these would incur additional charges and call rates will be dependent on their location. On Skype Conference calls, you also have the option of saving created groups for easy access especially for those who conduct meetings regularly. Another interesting feature is the fact that the people you call need not possess the same kind of computer platform (operating system or hardware) as you, they can receive your Skype call on their wireless mobile device, iPhone, Windows mobile device, and with the use of Skype credits you can even connect with people via their landlines.

How to Set Up a Skype Conference Call

With Skype, you can connect with up to 25 people on a single conference call. A Skype Conference call could be audio, video, or both depending on the type of device being used. Participants who do not have a Skype account can receive Skype Conference calls using their cell phones or landline, but at extra charges, of course. Setting up a Skype group call may differ owing largely to the availability of users in Skype.

How to set up a Skype Conference Call – Skype users only

  • Open the Skype app, and log in
  • Click on the “Group” icon above your list of contacts, this will cause an empty window to appear.
  • Click and hold the contacts you wish to include the group call, drag them into the window. Alternatively, you can click on ctrl + the Skype contacts you wish to add to your conference call.
  • Once you select the contacts the green handset button that signifies, you want to start a Skype call changes to “call group”
  • Click on the button “Call group” to initiate the call.

How to set up a Skype conference call – Skype users AND non-users on PC

  • Repeat the steps above.
  • Once you’ve added participants who have Skype accounts, locate the’+’ icon and type in the phone number you wish to add. Once the contact is added, you can always include that contact in any conference call you initiate.
  • Click on the button ‘Call group’ to start your conference call.

How to set up Skype Conference – Mac users

  • Open the Skype app on your Mac OS
  • Locate the ‘Chats’ icon at the top left side of your computer screen.
  • Click the arrow next to ‘New Chat.’
  • On the drop-down menu click on ‘New Group Chat’
  • Proceed to create your new group by giving it a name and adding any photo of your choice.
  • A pop-up window display, click on the blue arrow icon at the bottom right of the window.
  • To add Skype users to your conference call, input their names into the blue search bar at the top of your screen and click on the circle next to their names.
  • To add users who are not on Skype, you can simply search for their phone number in the search bar and then add them to the call. Note that you call only do this if you have Skype credit.
  • Once you’ve added all the participants to your group call, click on the blue ‘Done’ button at the top right of your screen.
  • To start an audio call or video conference call, click either the phone icon or the video camera icon at the top right of the screen respectively.

Reconnecting a dropped caller when using Skype

Sometimes during a Skype Conference call, connections can drop unexpectedly due to slow networks, or other unforeseen circumstances. You can re-establish the connection without having to restart the conference call all over again by following the few steps:

  • Once your connection is dropped, you will see the wording on the green call button change to ‘Join Group.’ You can simply click on the icon to rejoin the call.
  • Alternatively, you can click the ‘Contacts’ tab which will take you to your Skype contact list. On your Skype contact list, all the call participants should be already selected. Proceed to Ctrl+ click the dropped contact and then click on the green call button on the Skype client window. The dropped contacts will automatically get added back into the call, without you having to close your current connections.

What kind of camera do I need for Skype?

For most people, the webcams built into their computers are more than adequate for Skype, but if you’re getting an external webcam, it is advisable to go for a high-end camera with good video quality. When choosing a Webcam for Skype there are, however, a few things you should consider such as:

Frame rate:

Frame rate dictates how smooth your video quality will be and the number of images per second that can be displayed by your webcam. If you need a high-quality smooth motion video recording, you should consider a webcam with a frame rate capacity of about 30–60 fps.

Megapixels:

Megapixels control the clarity, color, and vividness of your video or image. A webcam with high megapixels will give a clearer video with the utmost clarity of colors. So when buying a camera it is best to purchase one that offers high pixel quality if you want to experience quality video calls.

Auto light detection:

You may sometimes need to make a video call in dim or harsh lighting conditions, the auto light features help boost your video quality in correspondence to the particular situation allowing for recording of high-quality video in whatever light conditions you find yourself in.

Lens Quality:

Lens quality is another important feature that improves the quality of your videos because the lens is the first step in video calling as it is the lens that captures the frame of the object or person being viewed. It is more ideal to go for a glass lens than a plastic one, especially if high-quality videos are important to you.

Autofocus:

Some webcams come with autofocus others are manually adjusted but whichever you choose as long as you get the settings right it will help keep to the main focus while filtering out the less needed details in your environment.

Built-in Microphone with Noise cancellation feature:

A built-in microphone enables you to be heard clearly by your caller without any difficulties for glitches, the noise cancellation feature further helps in blocking out the unwanted noises emanating from your background thus improving audio quality.

What are the best cameras that come with these Skype-friendly features?

There are several types of web cameras that can be used with Skype, these cameras below have been selected because they allow high-quality video calling and streaming, and good audio as well. Many of the webcams below have a microphone with noise cancellation features to block out background noises.

Check Price on Amazon

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 

The Logitech HD Pro webcam is a full HD 1080 webcam which projects a high-definition video chat with crisp clear visuals. This webcam has about two microphones, on each side which helps improves audio quality and voice clarity. With the stereo Mac’s you have a noise reduction feature which helps reduce unwanted noise emanating from the background automatically. It also has a low light correction feature which allows the recording of clear videos automatically even in low-light situations. This set comes with a tripod-ready universal clip that fits perfectly for laptops. Another awesome feature of this webcam is its H.264 video compression which helps in compressing and recording videos to improve upload speed.

Check Price on Amazon

Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam

Features: A 1080p Full HD Camera

The camera lens of the Logitech C922x pro-stream webcam is designed to add clarity to your videos with its full HD 1080p camera which ensures clear and high-quality video, capturing every detail.

The XSplit License enables quality live broadcast which allows you to adjust everything from sound to video all to suit your requirements.

The Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam also has features that support newer, and more sophisticated compression technology ensuring almost instantaneous video compression and improving uploads speeds as well.

It comes with two omnidirectional mics which have noise reduction features that improve sound quality and boost audio clarity.

Check Price on Amazon

Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000

Features: 750p HD camera, microphone with noise reduction

The Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 offers 750p HD clear video chat and video recording. It is an attachable HD webcam which ca be fitted to surroundings to give high-quality video and sound. This also comes with a microphone with noise reduction abilities to improve audio quality. It also has the TrueColor technology which allows it to make videos bright and colorful in all light conditions.

Check Price on Amazon

AUSDOM Web Camera AW615

Features: 1080P HD Camera, Microphone, Noise reduction

The AW615 has a full HD 1080p which produces high-definition videos. You can conduct Skype Conference calls with ease and engage in multiple high-quality video chats and video recording with this webcam, you can also take alluring pictures and carry out several other tasks using this camera. It sports a manual autofocus setting which might be challenging to use at first but if you are able to get the right settings it gives a very clear video. The webcam also has an in-built microphone that improves audio quality helps in eliminating unwanted background noise using its noise reduction feature. The AUSDOM Web Camera AW615 can be rotated 360 degrees and can be easily attached to a computer, PC, or laptop.

Check Price on Amazon

Genius 120-degree Ultra Wide Angle Camera

Features: 1080p Full HD Camera, ultra-wide angle, Microphone

The Genius 120-degree Ultra-Wide Angle Full HD Conference Webcam has full 1080p High Definition recording. Videos made with its ultra-wide-angle lens of up to 120 degrees allows users to see a wider angle during video calls. It is the perfect webcam for Skype video calls as it presents a wider angle of vision whilst giving up to 12 MP interpolation photos. It has a highly sensitive built-in stereo microphone, which allows for high-quality audio recording voice clarity. It comes with the software required for its operation and also an extension cable making it a lot easier to use without buying any other extra item.

What is Office 365 Skype for Business?

Office 365 Skype for Business is a version of Microsoft’s Skype that allows you access to instant messaging, video and audio conversations, as well as Skype meetings. It is quite similar to regular Skype but has added productivity features that help you run your business more efficiently.

Skype for Business also lets you quickly connect with people across your company or around the world offering added advantages like seeing when someone is available, in a meeting, presenting, and also providing industrial strength security for audio and video calls, or broadcasting a meeting online to a large audience. Skype for Business is also great because it works with your other Office programs, allowing you chat, call, or join a meeting with just a click.

With Skype for Business you can:

  • See when people are available and online, away from their desk, or in a meeting
  • Send instant messages while doing other tasks
  • Set up a Skype conference calls for Business meetings
  • Share your desktop screen or applications in a Skype meetings
  • Make and receive audio and video calls

General features of Skype

Skype gives its users the ability to communicate with other users through multiple channels such as IM, voice, and video calls.

Small businesses and individuals mostly use Skype as it allows them to have seamless communication among friends, their teams, and clients for no cost at all, and from any place in the world and on any device.

Video and audio call:

With Skype, you can host a video or an audio call or conference with up to 50 people. It also has features that allow you record your calls, talk over smart chat and it enables live captions & subtitles.

Search for files:

You can easily access files by scrolling through your chat history to see all the files, links, and photos in that particular conversation.

Hold interviews:

With Skype, you can conduct and take interviews with different features suitable for different types of situations.

Connect from anywhere:

With Skype, you can connect with people no matter where you are, whether the peopleyou want to connect with have Skype or not.

Call phones at low rates:

You can call landlines and mobiles from anywhere in the world at lower rates using Skype Credit. You can even save more if you call certain destinations using Skype subscriptions.

Get a local phone number:

Skype Numbers are available in 26 countries. All are required to do is pay a flat fee for unlimited incoming calls.

Send SMS from Skype:

You can send and receive text messages using Skype.

Share location:

You can share your location with people on Skype so that they can find you more easily.

Send files:

You can share files of not up to 300 MB on Skype including photos, videos, docs, etc.

Skype Translator:

Skype offers real-time translations of voice calls, video calls and instant messages, which means you can call and interact with people across the world regardless of the language barriers.

Forward calls:

You can forward your Skype calls to your other available devices so that you can receive calls even when you’re not logged in.

Voicemail:

Skype offers voice mail features that let people leave audio messages for you when you’re too busy to talk.

Caller ID:

With Skype caller ID your mobile number or Skype Number is displayed when you call other people on their mobile phone and landlines.

Skype To Go:

You can call international numbers from any phone using Skype To Go at lower calling rates.

What is Office 365 Skype for Business?

Office 365 Skype for Business is a version of Microsoft’s Skype that allows you access to instant messaging, video and audio conversations, as well as Skype meetings. It is quite similar to the regular Skype but has added productivity features that help you run your business more efficiently.

Skype for Business also lets you quickly connect with people across your company or around the world offering added advantages like seeing when someone is available, in a meeting, presenting, and also providing industrial strength security for audio and video calls, or broadcasting a meeting online to a large audience. Skype for Business is also great because it works with your other Office programs, allowing you chat, call, or join a meeting with just a click.

With Skype for Business you can:

·        See when people are available and online, away from their desk, or in a meeting

·        Send instant messages while doing other tasks

·        Set up a Skype conference calls for Business meetings

·        Share your desktop screen or applications in a Skype meetings

·        Make and receive audio and video calls

Differences Between Regular Skype and Skype for Business

Skype for Business and Skype are both communication tools owned by Microsoft, but they have important differences, regardless of their similar nomenclature.

Skype for Business includes all the features of regular Skype in addition to special business features. This makes it an effective replacement for an office phone system. For starters, Skype for Business provides services such as advanced call routing and handling. With Skype for Business, you can have hunt groups, advanced forwarding options, and auto attendants, as these features tend to be necessary to the daily runs of most larger enterprises. The other specific differences between Skype and Skype for Business are:

Conference Calling with Ease:

Skype for Business can serve as a replacement for conferencing services as it can accommodate about 25 users in one conference call. It also has a dial-in feature on outlook which allows for easy organization of meetings.

In this variant of Skype (Business), there exist a ton of other features, one of which allows you to record the proceedings of meetings.

App Integration:

Skype for Business offers industry standard security services which allow businesses manage a numerous staff accounts which can also be integrated into other Microsoft Office apps.

With the Skype real-time availability feature built into your calendar, Outlook calendar will display your availability to other participants in line with your calendar entered availability.

Streamlining Communication:

Skype for Business represents an effective alternative for larger organizations who would like to replace their voice communication solutions. Skype for business possesses all the workings of a traditional office phone system, yet remains a better option owing largely to its cloud-based setup. Additionally, Skype for Business allows for conference calling and will let users connect with others (up to 25 people) across various platforms.

Skype vs Zoom

Skype and Zoom are both communication tools used by businesses all over their world to communicate with staff. Zoom was created to bring ‘teams together in a frictionless environment to get more done”. While Skype was founded with the aim to ‘enable the world’s conversations”. Both apps are very effective but some offer features that others do not, for example:

Cost:

Skype Offers Better Pricing in comparison to zoom. Zoom offers various plans and price points, including a free plan which allows you to host up to 100 participants in a video call, along with other basic communication features. One of their plans allows you to host up to 100 participants with more administrative features to manage user settings and reporting for $14.99 per user per month. The highest plan goes for $19.99 per user per month and allows you to host up to 100 participants, including all the features of the lower plans and also provides many more customization options and recording functions. Skype, on the other hand, has two different versions, the regular Skype for consumers and Skype for business. The regular version of Skype is incredibly comprehensive and is completely free of charge but for businesses who want more control over their video conferencing solution, they might need to purchase Skype for Business which costs either $2 per user per month for the Online Plan 1 and $5.50 per user per month for the Online Plan 2. The Online Plan 1 focuses on Skype’s basic features while the Online Plan 2 focuses on more advanced features like HD video conferencing and desktop sharing, but if you already pay for Microsoft Office 365 you can access Skype for Business at no extra cost.

Feature Availability:

While both Zoom and Skype offer the same communication features at a basic level, they vary significantly in detail as zoom focuses more on providing advanced comprehensive video conferencing solutions while Skype focuses on creating a more versatile platform for better communication and collaboration. So if you’re looking for a fully functional and in-depth video conference tool, you are better off with zoom which offers features like breakout sessions and individual meeting URLs which allows you to customize your video conference experience as much as you want. Zoom also has features that allow you to create more interaction between presenters and participants like its virtual hand-raising.

Customer Support:

Both Zoom and Skype offer excellent customer support when users have challenges but zoom offers a faster and more personalized support. This is because Skype is officially part of Microsoft so even though you might find more power behind its support team, you might experience a longer wait time. You can contact zoom’s support team via different channels as the company provides a comprehensive online support page that includes video tutorials, comprehensive help articles, FAQs, and the option to connect directly with the support team, initiate a live online chat or submit a ticket online.

WebEx Vs Skype

Both Skype and WebEx allow businesses to communicate and collaborate with their clients and staff from anywhere in the world and for users who need more functionality both apps offer subscription services with additional features not included in their free versions, regardless of these additional functionalities they both offer they still differ from each other.

Number of Participants:

Skype’s free account allows you to call other Skype users, ever one-on-one or group calls, they can also be either video or audio calls. On your Skype premium account, you can make group audio calls of up to 25 participants and video conference calls of up to 10 users, Skype for business offers as much as 25 users in one conference call. WebEx, on the other hand, offers conference call services that vary depending on what sort of account you have. Your free WebEx account allows up to three users while the Premium account allows up to 8 users. The Premium 25 account allows 25 users on a conference call and the Premium 100 allows 100 users.

Cost:

Skype Premium costs a lot less in comparison to WebEx’s various plans.

Video Quality:

WebEx offers video quality based on your account type, standard-quality video for calls are available on a free account while high-definition videos available only on a premium account. Skype does not offer video quality based on your subscription settings instead the quality of your videos is based on your internet connection and available device being used. 

Numerous Options:

Skype is mostly a video conferencing application, and although it has various features with WebEx, you get more versatility. On WebEx, calls can include, and document sharing options, a whiteboard, desktop, application sharing, and even a remote control option. On WebEx platform, users can also connect with others using VoIP or call in from their personal phones and landlines if they have a paid account. They also get storage space of up to 1 GB and the ability to record conference calls for use later.

The Bottom Line

Mandatory social isolation as a result of the pandemic is simply a fact of life for most of the world’s population. It requires people to be creative and find ways to adjust to this unfamiliar way of life; one such adjustment is the need for video conferencing. We hope this overview has helped you learn, with confidence, how to set up a Skype conference call, choose the best camera for Skype, and decide on the version of Skype that best suits your needs. If you read this article because you will eventually use Skype, but you are still in the process of establishing your home office/workspace, we can help you do that as well. In our opinion, the most important requirement to successfully work from home is the subtle but significant wireless router. You need a wireless router to utilize your high-speed Internet connection at all, but you need a great wireless router to use it to its full potential.


Affiliate Disclosure

Easy SmartHub is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate Easy SmartHub earns from qualifying purchases. Easy SmartHub also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.

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