Every time I work with a client, inevitably either they want to show me something on their computer screen, or I need to show them something on mine — and talk about it. You can do this using WebEx.com, GoToMeeting.com and NetMeeting are popular corporate solutions. If you are a small business, however, you want to save money. How to do this without spending a lot of money on some web conferencing service?!? The answer is [drum roll …] “Skype!” As a consultant, I do this all the time.
“What the heck is Skype?” you may ask. Good question. Skype is a free application that runs on your computer and allows you to communicate with other people using voice, video conferencing, and/or online chat — for free. It will also let you share your computer screen — for free. It will also let you speak with people in other countries running skype on their computers — for free. Should I say FREE again? Probably not. You get the picture. [P.S. There is a bunch of other interesting stuff you can get for a FEE, but that’s a different post. ]
Two of the things I really like about Skype are: (1) that it allows you to set up a video video call, and (2) allows you to share your screen.
Being a consultant who works out of my home office, Skype lets me have a personal interaction with my clients — regardless of whether they are down the street or across the country. We get to see each other’s faces. This is a big plus. I’m not just a disembodied voice on the phone. I don’t need to drive or fly to see them. It’s almost like being there without the hassle of traveling and you get it for free!
The other feature that of Skype that I absolutely LOVE is it’s ability to share screens.
At my discretion, I can share either my entire screen or parts of it with the person I am interacting with. This is amazingly useful — particularly when you’re try to get an idea across or tweak the design of something or the other.
One downside of Skype (as with any other instant messaging application) is that the people you deal with can always see when you online. Theoretically, this can lead to disruptive calls or chats, however, you can always ignore the contact — just like with a phone call.
The other downside to Skype is the the audio/video quality depends on how fast and reliable your network connection is. A faster connection equals better performance. If you don’t have a fast connection or are in a foreign country that has limited bandwidth, using Skype can get annoying due to the call quality. Still, however, it’s a free application that gives you great functionality for the cost of your internet connection and computing hardware.
Pretty cool? I think so!