When Skype first started, it was known as a way to talk to people anywhere in the world, computer to computer, for free! It was also a way to call landlines or mobile phones for a small fee by adding credit to your account.
These days, Skype is used for so much more than calling people in other cities, states or countries. You can call your neighbor next door or your friend in France. You can have a meeting with your whole team – some of whom might be in the next office, and some in another city or country. It still works the same as it always did: free when you call computer to computer, and you can add credits to your account when you want to call a landline or mobile phone.
The fact that you can call computer to computer for FREE, and be able to chat (instant message), share links and files, and (the best part!) share screens is what makes using Skype for meetings with clients and colleagues the most efficient and productive way to connect.
As web developers and graphic designers, we spend most of our time on the computer. Whether designing logos, coding websites, working in our project management software, connecting with people on social media or responding to emails, we are essentially a digital and virtual business. Plus, any time we aren’t on our computer is time spent away from client work; from our efforts to secure client work; or from our ability to be of service to our online communities where we have formed and continue to form invaluable business and personal relationships.
To make the most efficient and productive use of our time and our clients’ time, we prefer and highly encourage virtual meetings. Remember that “best part” I mentioned above about sharing screens? It really is a wonderful benefit, as being able to show someone something on your screen is a lot easier and more efficient than trying to explain it to someone verbally or in an email.
Before I get into the details of how to download Skype and what all you can do with Skype, I want to share the benefits of having a virtual meeting vs. an in-person meeting:
- It saves time: Eliminate the drive time to and from a meeting location. Bonus: no more stress from traffic!
- You don’t have to worry (as much) about what you’re wearing: As a business owner working from my home office, I am proud to announce to the world that my daily outfit of choice is indeed yoga pants and t-shirts. Even if I had an office away from home, I’d wear the same thing. It’s a luxurious benefit of working for myself that I cherish daily! Sure, I can get dressed up if I HAVE to, but if I have my preference, I want to be comfortable. Comfort = happy. Happy = more productive. More productive = happier clients and doing better work. Voila!
- You don’t have to stress about who’s paying: When you go to a meeting at a coffee shop or restaurant, you’re bound to order something (it’s the right thing to do in exchange for tables, chairs, and wifi). Who should pay? It always gives me a bit of anxiety because I want to be generous and make everyone feel comfortable, while also not breaking the bank. So, meeting virtually takes this stressful element out of the equation.
- You don’t have to spend time trying to figure out where to meet.
This isn’t to insinuate that in-person meetings are 100% out of the question and never to occur. However, in our business, virtual meetings are ideal throughout most of the timeline of the project, given the digital/online nature of our business. Emails, contact forms, and scheduling tools are also ideal for a good portion of the communication, as they keep everything documented.
Imagine a one-hour meeting where it truly lasts [only] an hour? Ahhhh! An in-person meeting can easily double the time involved when you factor in getting ready, packing up your computer and files/notes, and driving to and from the meeting location.
Let’s talk about all the things you can do with Skype
- Skype to Skype individual and group calls: Video or voice call anyone in the world, for free. Stay on the call for minutes or hours (Janet and I have a record of 5 hours so far).
- Instant messaging/chatting: Share messages, paste a link, or upload a document. Bonus: all of the call history is saved (links, documents, messages) when using the Skype app.
- Call phone numbers: Call mobile and landline numbers at affordable rates by adding credit to your Skype account.
- Screen sharing: Our personal favorite! Give a presentation, show someone how to do something on their website (or any website), review logo drafts or website mockups, and more! Anything you can see on your computer, you can share with the person or group of people on the call…and vice versa.
How to Use Skype
- Downloading and Using Skype: You can try Skype via their website and enjoy a few features. However, to get the full benefit of everything listed above, you’ll need to download the Skype app onto your computer. This page gives you full instructions on how to create an account, try it out on their website, and download the app to use all the features. The blue button in the image below is your ticket to the awesome world of Skype!
Scroll down on that same page for videos on how to call a landline or mobile number, how to chat, share screens, have group calls and more!
- Adding Contacts: Once you have an account, you’ll have a username or use your email address. When you want to add a new contact, you simply go to the Contacts tab and search by their full name, Skype username or email address (and vice versa for when someone wants to add you). Click to add the contact, and they’ll receive a contact request. Once they accept, you’re connected.
I encourage you to explore the full list of Skype features here.
Why Skype vs. Zoom or Google Hangouts?
Skype isn’t the only game in town. There are a plethora of other video conferencing platforms, and they all have pros and cons. The other two that I have used are Zoom and Google Hangouts. Here are a few details about them in case you’re curious:
- Easily join or host a meeting.
- You will be prompted to download the Zoom app when you join or host, and it can be used on desktops and mobile devices.
- It has the same features as Skype in terms of instant messaging and screen sharing.
- You can enjoy unlimited 1 to 1 meetings, but group meetings are limited to 40 minutes unless you upgrade.
Zoom is a fantastic tool, but since we have been using Skype for so long (as have many of our clients), it’s our platform of choice.
- Message a friend or start a group conversation.
- Easily continue the call or chat when moving from your desktop to your phone/tablet since it’s all happening within your Google account.
- Call a mobile number or landline from your computer for free.
Google Hangouts is also a great tool. However, we have occasionally experienced some screen fuzziness and voice static.
And there you have it. Skype is simple, it’s been around for a long time, and it’s free, convenient and efficient. Zoom and Google Hangouts are great choices, too. So, if you’re one of our clients or potential clients and you’d rather meet via Zoom or Google Hangouts, we’re cool with that. Skype just happens to be our favorite go-to virtual meeting tool.
Now, go create a Skype account, download the app to your computer, and add us using our email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’d love to chat with you and get you on the road to meeting virtually and (best of all) saving time!
Let us know your thoughts on virtual meetings, favorite software/tool(s), and if you have any questions in the comments below. Happy Skyping, Zooming or Hanging Out!