More and more interviews and phone conferences are being held through Skype. Here’s what you need to know.
Skype is an internet-based call system, allowing you to make free audio and video calls to other Skype users. It can also be used to call cell phones and landlines, but that costs money.
First, download Skype
To get started you should download the Skype application for your computer. Mac & PC users can go to http://www.skype.com to download it. Mac, iPhone and iPad users can go to the AppStore, and search for “Skype.” Android users can get it through the Marketplace.
Set up an Account
The Skype website provides instructions for setting up a Skype account. For Skype-to-Skype calls you won’t need to pay any money. Video conferencing with a group and Skype-to-phone calls both require a paid subscription.
The quality of your internet connection is a big factor in the quality of video calls. A wired Ethernet connection is faster than a wireless connection, but either can be used.
Microphone and Speaker
If you’re going to use Skype for voice calls, all you need is a computer (or phone or tablet) connected to the internet, with a microphone to talk into and a speaker to listen.
Obviously a phone has a microphone, as do tablet computers and most laptop computers. Desktop computers may need to have an external microphone hooked up. An external microphone will often improve audio quality. IT or Media Services may be able to help you find a microphone if necessary.
There also needs to be a way for you to listen to the other person, which requires some sort of speaker. Again, a phone or tablet will have one built-in, as will laptop computers; external speakers may improve the audio quality, however. Desktop computers will probably need a set of speakers installed. IT or Media Services may be able to help you find a set of speakers if necessary.
Video Call Requirements
Every device we’re talking about has a screen so that you can see the other person on a video call, but you need a camera in order for them to see you. Many laptops have built-in cameras, as do tablets and phones; older PC laptops tend not to have video cameras, and many desktop computers don’t either. If you need to borrow a video camera, IT may be able to loan you one.
Projecting to a Group
If you need to include a group of people in the room in a video call, it’s helpful to have a projector or TV screen to hook up to your computer. This allows everyone to see the person on the other end of the line. Of course, you may just opt to set up your computer or tablet in a way that makes it visible to everyone around the table.
Test your setup
It’s always a good idea to test the setup before a critical call. You will want to see how the audio sounds and make sure that the images sent and received are acceptable. Skype provides a Test Call feature, which will allow you to test the audio quality; you should engage the services of a friend or colleague to test the video quality–give them a call & make any adjustments necessary.