Last Monday I posted here on Lead and Manage with practical advice about google docs. If you use the facility correctly it will save time and you can offer your clients and partners great ways of getting the work done!

This week I’m focussing on Skype – a great cloud service for free phone calls.

Remember: cloud services are those which are offered by service providers on the internet. The main software for each service is on the web, and you access it there. For Skype you need to download some software to link to the Skype network on the cloud.

Why use Skype?

  • Skype is an industry standard  for our size of enterprise: nearly any SME (Small or Medium Sized Enterprise) that gets in touch with me these days offers to talk with me on Skype.
  • Save money – steer clear of the premium (pay) options until you’re sure you need them!
  • Have fun and work effectively – use the video call option: it’s nice to see the people you’re doing business with.

What equipment do you need to use Skype? A desktop computer, or a laptop, with access to the internet and a microphone to transmit your voice is all you need[i]. Any reasonably modern desktop or laptop will have inbuilt speakers so you can hear your caller’s voice.

How do you get on to Skype?

To create your account go to http://www.skype.com/intl/en-gb/home and fill in the details it asks for, specifying you want the free version.

The user instructions Skype provides are very good[ii]. But post a reply here (bottom of page after my biography) if you need help.

Build your directory (“contacts list”)

Ask your contacts for their Skype address (many people put them at the end of their emails or on their websites).

  • Click on add a contact on your Skype home page and fill in the very small form.
  • Skype will ask them to allow you to add them as a contact
  • Their names will appear on your contact list (on your Skype home page)

Use it!

There are 3 ways I recommend you use Skype

For free video calls

  • Arrange with your chosen contact that he or she will be on Skype when you want to call them (they just need to have opened Skype from their programme list)
  • Go to your Skype home page and click on their name in your contacts list
  • If they are on Skype (ready to receive your call) the page will show both the “video call” and “call” buttons as dark green
  • Click on the video button – this will put you in touch with your contact.
  • The on screen instructions are clear from then on – enjoy your video call!

For free audio only call

  • If you don’t want your client to see you on video, then once you have connected, click on the video camera shaped button – it will now appear with a line through it and you will be on audio only
  • This is useful too if the quality breaks up when you’re using video – disable it and continue on audio only!

 

For discussions while you collaborate on documents in real time

  • If you have a document you want to work on with your contact give them access to it on google docs (see Manage Your Work Load with the Cloud)
  • Talk to them on Skype while you view the document together and make changes to it
  • Have fun as you talk each other through the document and watch each other’s cursors edit it!

This week the instructions have been longer than usual. If you have any difficulty at all, comment here by scrolling to the very end of this article, and I’ll get back and help you!

If you want to practice, my Skype address is dionlindsay. Make contact and we’ll give it a go together!

Above all, have fun! – the combination of Skype and Google Docs gives you working freedom you’ve likely never had before!!

Comment below and let us all know how you got on!


[i] Most laptops will have a  built in microphone: if you are using a desktop you might need to buy a plug in microphone for a very few pounds – from your local IT shop or the internet.

[ii]That isn’t so for every bit of cloud software, but I’ll play fair and tell you about that for software that’s still worth using.