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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Hi there, I'm Jess Stratton and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. This week we're talking about Skype, the popular and free voice and video application that lets you keep in touch with you family, friends, clients, and customers. You can use Skype on a mobile phone, on a tablet, a desktop computer, or a laptop. This week, we'll be doing things like checking your equipment. Testing your microphone. Adding a contact and then initiating an actual voice call with that contact over the internet.
Now there's actually a lot more that you can do with Skype. For example, you can send files, you can add people to your conversation and you can even have an instant message chat after the fact. So, let's get started and I'll show you how to do all those things. I'm logged into Skype right now. And before we can even start our conversation, we have to add our contact. I'm going to go over to Contacts on the left, choose Add Contact. And type in the name or email address of the person I'm looking for. In this case I'm going to type in Shea's email address and hit Enter. Here she is.
So before I can initiate a voice call with her, I have to invite her as a contact and she has to accept. So I'm going to click Send Shea request. I can type in a message if I want. This is useful if I have an unusual username and Shea won't recognize me. When you're ready, hit Send and the request is sent. So now what we'll have to do is wait for Shey to accept our request. While we're waiting, let's test our mic and make sure its going to work before we even bother calling Shey. I'm going to click Skype > Preferences, from the top of the screen.
Now I'm going to go over to the Audio and Video tab. Alright we know that our microphone is working because every time I speak, I can see these bars adjust. If it wasn't working, then you're not set to the right microphone. And you can use these drop downs and choose the right one until you see these bars appear. Now if no bars continue to appear, that may mean you might have a deeper hardware issue that needs to be solved before you can get into Skype. I can also see the webcam we have is working. But don't worry you can still use Skype even if you don't have a webcam.
In-fact this time around we're only going to use a voice call we're not even going to use the webcam. When we're all ready, I can close out of these settings and now let's see if Shea's accepting our request. She has indeed. So we can call Shea. However, if we weren't in this recent screen, we can still click on Contacts, come up here to the Search bar. I can type Shea And click this phone to initiate a call with her. It's also important to note that we're calling Shea over Skype. I'm not a premium paid member so that means that I can't call Shea's land line or cell phone.
Shea has to be using Skype and she has to be online and ready to go. Because this green icon, has a green tick mark next to it an it's colored in, I know she's online. So I'm going to click the telephone. It's going to call Shea. >> Hello. >> Hi Shea. How are you? >> Good, how are you? >> Good, thanks. Alright, we're ready to have our voice call with Shea. There's a couple of other neat things that we can do while we're talking to Shea. For one, I could mute my microphone. I can click this button and we're still in the call, but Shea can't hear me.
This is great if we're working on a call with multiple people and I'm at my house for example, the dog might start barking. If that happens, I can quickly mute my microphone and just unmute it when it's my turn to talk. We can also add other people to this call. If I click the plus sign, I can click Add people, and we can just start typing our contacts, for other people that we know. And enter them into the call. In this case, Juliana's not quite expecting us to call her so I'm going to hit Cancel. And show you some other things that you can do.
You can even send files. I can click this plus, choose Send Files, browse to my documents. Find my notes from last year's presentation file that we're talking about, hit Send. Here is the file. I can even chat and wait for Shea to accept the file. I can see right now that Shea's downloading it, so she can start opening it on her computer. And we can talk about it while we're both looking at it. You can also see that I can start chatting to Shea.
Even though we're talking, sometimes it's useful to still chat in the meantime. And I'm going to show you other ways how this chat is useful too. When we're all done with our conversation, I can click the Red Phone to discontinue the conversation. Bye Shea, sorry I'm hanging up on you. And you can still see our chat history. For example, you can see how I sent her the file. Up here on the left in our Recent conversations, this is the conversation between me and Shea. I can hit Enter, and we can still continue to have a conversation, even though we're not on an active Skype call.
Now this is really useful because our conversation is going to hang around in the recent conversations. So, even if I'm in my Skype home menu or looking at my contacts. If I ever need to tell Shea something quickly. I can see she's online, come down here, ask her if she's ready. And then we can continue to chat this way or I can simply click the Call button. I can send other files at any time by clicking that plus and choosing Send Files. And I can also add people at any time to our conversation.
So now that you've mastered the basics, I encourage you to explore all the options that Skype has. You could even this into a perpetual group task and keep inviting more people into it. I actually have some chats that have been going on for a good four years or so. You can have a paid subscription so you could do voice calls worldwide to any phone. And as you expand your client and customer base, you'll probably find that most of them, or at least of them, are already using Skype. It's very popular. Adding Skype and making yourself available to them is a means of keeping in touch with them, will ensure that they can find you when they need you.
And they'll definitely come to you before they come to a competitor.
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