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March 23, 2011

Skype – Collaborate with Group Video Calls

Skype has enhanced their group video calling to allow up to 10 people to collaborate in one video call. 

One of the greatest appeals of using Skype for business was the group video calling feature. The ability to have a video call beyond the typical one-to-one is invaluable. At first our interest revolved around being able to initiate meetings with all the remote employees at once, and since we have found other opportunities to utilize the feature.

For example, when having a one-to-one video call you may end up needing to involve another person in the conversation. With a single click, you can call that person and invite them into the call and instantly get your answer. Instead of dealing with making several phone calls or scheduling a meeting where for everyone to get in one room, you can collaborate with a single click.

We have also been able to use group video calling for board meetings. Board meetings are held in the evenings at the main office in Michigan, and if you have ever been to Michigan during winter you know sometimes Mother Nature makes it difficult for people to get where they need to be. At several meetings, board members who had a treacherous drive ahead of them were able to stay at home and video-conference in with Skype.

Kirk, our Vice President of Sales and Marketing, uses group calls for weekly sales meetings, and says the use of video calls helps to “build more of a team attitude.” It also helps everyone to stay focused on the discussion at hand, with conference calls (voice only) it is easier to try to multi-task and get distracted. Being on camera keeps you “present” and helps you to engage with everyone on the call. Kirk has also been able to use Skype to participate in board meetings, which saves on travel time/costs.

Previously, the technology limited users to only allow four people in a video call at once. There were definitely times when this became a bit of a road block for what we would have liked to accomplish. The ability to be able to include up to 10 people now will hopefully extend our use of the feature even further.

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