Using Skype for Your Business

April 13th, 2017 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe

Skype, owned by Microsoft, is one of the most popular video and voice call platforms in the world. With hundreds of millions of monthly active users, Skype has obviously proven its worth as a free go-to chat and call platform for loyal fans, but the platform actually also offers paid services targeted at business users. If you’re looking to conduct large business meetings online, integrate with applications such as Office, and enjoy better security and management, Skype for Business could be a product to consider for your business needs.

What is Skype for Business?

Skype for Business is a paid service (currently starting at US$2.80 per user per month) that offers additional features to those provided in the free version. These extra features include enterprise capabilities through integration with Office 2016, at an extra cost. Users can see contacts’ online statuses and start Skype conversations through Word and PowerPoint.

Other extra features included in the subscription fee include online meetings, messaging, calls, and video with up to 250 people, rather than the standard group audio calls of up to 25 people. These 250 people don’t necessarily need to subscribe to Skype for Business to participate in calls, but they do need to have an internet connection or phone line to connect.

Skype for Business lets you find anyone in your organisation and schedule meetings with them in Outlook. It offers enterprise-grade security features, including authentication and encryption, and users can manage employee accounts and features. All in all, it’s designed for business users who need to collaborate with many people through video, voice, and chat.

What is a Skype meeting?

Skype meetings are group calls that allow individuals and businesses to collaborate online, through the Skype app, which can be downloaded for a variety of operating systems ranging from Windows and Android to Mac.

In a Skype meeting, you can add users by selecting the New (“+”) button and pressing Call or Video. Once they pick up or accept your call request, they’re automatically added to the meeting. You can choose the group avatar to name your group or to add a group picture. Skype meetings are convenient and cost-effective ways to collaborate with other users.

If you’re using a free account, you can conduct meetings via Skype with up to 25 people, but this is guaranteed on audio calls only. Free accounts support one-on-one video calls, along with multiple video streaming for conference calls, depending on your platform and device.

With a Skype for Business account, you can conduct online meetings with up to 250 people while using messaging, calls, and video features. If your Skype for Business account is integrated with Office, you might be able to activate other features such as broadcasting your business meeting for up to 10,000 people online, and using the dial-in option to add users to meetings.

Skype Meetings

Skype Meetings, on the other hand, is a free online meeting tool that supports small businesses with real-time audio and HD video conferencing. Users can share screens and content during the meeting, and you can share a URL to invite meeting attendees. Other features include PowerPoint sharing, whiteboard, and extra meeting controls such as audience mute. The product is currently only available through a paid plan for Australian users.

How do I setup a conference call on Skype?

You can set up conference calls with either a free Skype account or a Skype for Business account.

Conference calls on free Skype accounts

To set up a new conference call with a free Skype account, add your meeting invitees to your Skype contacts list. You can add up to 25 people to your conference call. You can search for users by name, Skype account name, or email. If they don’t have Skype, purchase some Skype Credits so you can call them on their mobile or landline number.

To add contacts quickly, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the Skype contacts you want to include, and then click on the Call Group button. You can also add people by clicking the New button (“+”) before pressing the call or video button. Remember, you can add people who are not Skype users by adding their landline and mobile as contacts.

Conference calls on Skype for Business

Start by checking your contacts’ statuses and ensuring everyone’s available. Then hold down the Ctrl key while clicking the names of your contacts. Right-click your selection and select Start a Conference Call, and click on Skype Call.

Your contacts will receive a notification message and choose to accept or decline your call request. You can add more users at any time by dragging their names into the meeting. You can also add users by clicking on Invite more People in the Participants pane in your conversation window, and then selecting someone from the list.

For recipients of meeting requests, joining a conference call is as easy as accepting the call invitation. If you’re away from your computer and the invitation includes a dial-in phone number and conference ID, you can simply call into the meeting on your landline or mobile phone. Dial the conference number in your meeting request and then enter the conference ID using your phone dial pad. You might need to enter a PIN and work number or extension in some cases, such as if the meeting is only accepting authenticated callers.

Using Skype to benefit your business

Skype for Business could be an inexpensive solution for enterprise users who are finding it hard to manage disparate web conferencing and chat tools for their business communications. While it’s not a full-range VoIP setup, Skype for Business – or even free Skype – is probably sufficient for business users who don’t need extensive integration and features. However, you will need a stable internet connection that can handle your Skype for Business needs.

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your business’ internet requirements today.

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About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Aussie Broadband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.