How Slow is Too Slow? Consider Your Internet Speed
If you know for a fact that anyone on the call is on dial-up, you may want to stick to a traditional phone call or Skype text chat. Skype relies on a fast Internet connection, and stutters, breaks, and dropped calls can quickly generate frustration and diminish the sense of organizational competency and collective accomplishment in a long-distance meeting. If you're running other screen-sharing programs or playing other online videos as part of the call, this will also affect performance. If in doubt, perform a test call under similar circumstances. If information shared on the call is important, you should also consider the security of the network of all callers. For example, it's relatively easy for hackers to intercept data traded on unlocked wireless networks. You may want to stipulate that all participants of your meeting ensure they are on private devices and locked networks.
Be Prepared: Know What You Need
For the most part, Skype-to-Skype calls are completely free. However, group calls are limited to voice-only for free users. If you want to organize a video call with three or more people, or share your screen via Skype with two or more people, you'll need to upgrade to a premium account. Ensure you have the correct account before you start your call to avoid awkward IT problems.
Think About Your “Scene”
To convey a professional image, if you're planning on hosting or receiving a video call, you should treat your “meeting space” just like you would for a physical meeting. Preview the image from your web camera and note any messy or distracting elements in the background. No quality camera will compensate for an awkward angle or bad lighting. Make sure the camera is roughly at eye-level and pointed straight ahead. Use a front-overhead light—or a series of lights—to avoid harsh shadows. If the image looks “noisy” or “grainy,” it's probably due to the lighting conditions in your office. Of course, the most important thing at the end of the day is still the audio. Make sure you're close enough to your computer or microphone that you don't have to shout to be heard. You should be able to talk in a natural, comfortable speaking tone. It's perfectly fine to have a microphone in view of the camera; if you're using an external shotgun mic or similar, place it right in front of you on the desk or table.
Be Courteous: Video Call with Caution
Video calls are great for connecting with your contacts on a personal level. However, there's certain etiquette that should be considered for video calls. Never initiate a video call without any warning. If you don't have an outstanding meeting request, send a quick message via Skype chat to make sure they're okay with a video call. Even in cases where the call is pre-scheduled, you may want to start with a voice call and ask all participants, once online, if they're comfortable activating video for a true face-to-face discussion.
With these things kept in mind, Skype can be the perfect platform for a range of business communication needs. When coupled with the services of a virtual office like those offered through YourCityOffice.com, it brings professional, high-tech networking to entrepreneurs and established managers alike with affordable, accessible, Internet communication.