The “Internet phone system”, Skype, has to be one of the best things that ever happened for home based business owners who have any desire to do business outside their local phone dialling area. Which has to be most of us.
I am still surprised when I find people who are working from a home office and not making use of Skype. I find that this is sometimes because no one has explained how easy it is to set up. But I feel very confident in saying that even if you don’t feel a burning need to get Skype to make calls to others, you will find increasingly that other business people, especially solopreneurs and owners of small or micro businesses, will expect you to be on Skype and know how to use it.
Judging by his tips for Better Skype Meetings, blogging and Internet marketing consultant Chris Garrett is a seasoned user of Skype. Some of the tips are good general principles for planning your participation in any meeting, such as deciding in advance the duration of the meeting. Others are more Skype-specific, such as getting a headset.
Chris says to consider getting a headset if you are making a lot of calls. I would not wait till then. A lot of problems I’ve had with Skype calls have been because someone was not using a headset but relying on the inbuilt microphone and speakers in their computer. You don’t need anything fancy and you should be able to get a perfectly serviceable set for less than $10, except for recording interviews, where you might need a higher quality headset (for around $40 you can get a very good one).
Chris mentions choosing a suitable time. My experience is that this is not easy to do internationally and it is good to have some help. Chris links to the excellent Meeting Planner on timeanddate.com. I find this invaluable. You can enter up to four cities and line them up to see how different times correlate.
And yes, turn off your email and don’t type during the session – unless of course you are the nominated note taker. It is not a time to catch up on your correspondence and others will be annoyed that you are not giving them the courtesy of your full attention to the business of the meeting.
I have a meeting tomorrow night with people from various parts of Australia and at least one from New Zealand. Naturally, we are using Skype. And the great thing is that, no matter how long the meeting goes, it will not cost any of us a penny, other than what we are already paying for our Internet connection.