Conference calls. Everybody loves them. For me, the best parts are the perpetual coughing, chewing, and crying children. Who doesn’t want to hear your dog barking at the UPS guy for 7 minutes? I also enjoy call leaders constantly asking, “who joined?”, “can you switch slides?”, and “is Nick on the call?”. Or when you get the “Sor…I’m cal…om a…ffee sho…” or the “[inaudible buzzling and crackling]” participants.
Sarcasm aside, did you know there is a solution to all of these issues? And that you probably only use it for internal IM chatter?
Skype for Business will let you host a call or webcast without daubing every box on conference call bingo.
Skype for Business
There are a lot of ways to leverage Skype for Business beyond the traditional instant message.
Now you can organize a conference call without having to remember long dial-in numbers or leader pins! Participants can join from their computers, conference rooms, or their mobile devices with the press of a single button.
And if you don’t want the meeting to start before you get there, you can put early callers into a lobby until the meeting organizer arrives.There is a participant pane for every call which notifies you who joins, shows who is already there (instead of having to ask every time you hear the beep), and lets you control the participants by (un)muting, turning off webcams, and making them organizers or presenters. And just like that we prevented you from daubing at least 7 bingo boxes!
Seen here, join a call with just one click.
You can make your call interactive beyond just sharing your screen(s). You can choose to share just a specific window or PowerPoint file, add attachments to your calls, open an Office doc for all call participants to edit in real time, or even open your OneNote notebooks from within the Skype for Business UI to take and share notes during the call.
You can also create whiteboards, polls, and a Q&A section to engage your attendees and harness their collective knowledge.
Seen here, Skype for business meetings.
If you are like me and would prefer to pick up the phone to connect with someone instead of communicating over IM or email, you can always call your coworkers directly with Skype for Business. And depending on your Office 365 subscription level, you may already own Microsoft’s Phone System that could replace your traditional phone system, giving you the option to consolidate platforms and reduce your technical debt.
Skype Meeting Broadcast
What if you need a way to share information with a much larger group of people, or give a quarterly update for your entire organization? Skype Meeting Broadcast is a feature of Skype for Business that lets you schedule and, as the name suggests, broadcast meetings to online audiences with up to 10,000 attendees. This makes it an ideal platform for presentations where audience interaction can (and should be) limited like town hall meetings, interviews with industry thought leaders, or event recaps.
Since this broadcast is a 1-way feed, people watching won’t be able to interrupt your presentation by forgetting to mute themselves or interjecting. Instead, they can interact with you using the participation apps built into Skype Meeting Broadcast:
- Microsoft Pulse for polls and voting
- Q&A for a moderated forum
- Yammer to allow for social discussion
This isn’t just another webinar tool, either. Skype Meeting Broadcast lets you stream video and content and gives your meeting producers the option to switch between multiple views, allowing you to highlight your content or video to help shape the narrative – all within the familiar Skype UI. You can also easily record your meetings and provide them on-demand as a MP4 file afterwards.
Seen above, attendee view of Skype Meeting Broadcast with Q&A panel
And your viewers get some cool benefits too. Do they need to run back to their desk after a different meeting to join your broadcast? Did they need to step away for 5 minutes halfway through? Skype Meeting Broadcast lets your viewers start from the beginning if they’re late and pause and resume watching where they left off.
It’s easy to control who’s attending, too. You can limit it to only people at your company, or you can make it a private event where only specified people can join, or it can be open for anyone with the link.
Are you ready to use these new Office 365 features?
Even though Skype will be absorbed by Teams in the future, the functionality should still be there (just under a different name). Skype for Business and Skype Meeting Broadcast provide a lot of ways to communicate beyond a simple IM that can give you new ways to interact with your coworkers.
Stay tuned for our post next week to learn more about the security behind the scenes that lets you work with people inside and outside of your organization – securely!
Do you have a favorite Office 365 feature or shortcut that makes your day easier? Tweet at us to share your tips and tricks!
Make sure to read the other posts in the series:
- On Making a More Productive Workday
- Defeat the Reply Allpocalypse
- How to Simplify Version Control
- The Case for Cloud Security
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