Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why team leaders need Skype Premium

First of all, the cost is $8.99/mo (25% off when you purchase a year's subscription).

For those of us leading teams of less than ten people (in my context of campus ministry this means conference design teams, summer project leadership teams, field ministry coaches, and even local team name a few) I think it's worth it. Here is why:

- It allows you to host multi-person video conferences. Only one person needs the premium account and it allows you to host a conference with anywhere from 2-10 video endpoints (though Skype says performance is best at 5 or under).

- Meetings are a lot more engaging when you are talking face to face. For the last several months, the distributed team I am part of has been having a monthly video conference. Each one is two hours, and it's amazing how much more quickly they go by, and how much more locked on I am, when I am seeing people's faces and expressions.

- We've all heard about how much communication is non-verbal. You are actually able to see how people are responding to what is being said, adding a lot of richness to the interactions.

- When you do finally get together face to face, you feel like these are people you know and have logged time with in a way that just doesn't happen with voice calls.

And here are some tips I've gleaned over the last several months:

1. The experience is best when everybody is on their own camera. Looking at a group in a conference room isn't very natural. The people are often too far away to pick up expressions, and much of the time they aren't looking your direction. It actually makes you feel more isolated if you are communicating with a group that is all in a room relating to one another and your vantage point is "looking in".

2. Hotel wi-fi just isn't there yet. Make sure you've got a solid internet connection for best results.

3. Most people aren't updated with the latest Skype. As it says on the Skype website, everyone has to update to version 5 or better in order for it to work. It's really easy but make sure ahead of the call everyone has it done.

4. Be patient. Allow a few minutes in the first part of your meeting for troubleshooting whenever you have a new group or person trying it out. Of course, if you're reading a blog you are tech savvy and probably already know this. :)

Any other tips to add?