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Skype for Business 2016: Meetings Made Easy

Skype for Business is used by organizations to enable their employees to collaborate, meet, and share.  With it, you can search and connect with both Skype and Skype for Business users.

Skype for Business is a big differentiator from a crowded market of other similar products. Why? Because Skype for Business 2016 easily integrates with Microsoft Outlook, Office and Office 365.

It can access your calendar and see when you’re available for meetings or not, and makes it easy to schedule them when you wish. Plus, if you use Office 365 or Microsoft Exchange, your global address list is readily available in Skype for Business 2016.

With Skype for Business 2016 You Can:

  • Use Instant Messaging.
  • Make Voice or Video Calls.
  • See your Contacts and their availability.
  • Broadcast to a very large audience online.
  • Present your screen during meetings.
  • Give control to others.

Status, Location & Personal Message

Your presence information is a quick way for other people to see your availability status.  Presence is automatically set based on your Outlook Calendar, but you can change it manually if you want to.

Once you launch your Skype for Business application, you will see the sign-in page.  Make sure you use the credentials assigned to you by your organization, and not your personal Skype sign in, or Microsoft account.

Up in the left-hand corner, you’ll see your presence.  You can make yourself available and override what Outlook says (When in Skype for Business, it thinks you’re not available, and currently in a meeting.)  You can note where you’re working from as well.

Set a personal message to let team members know what’s happening (e.g., if you’re busy or out of the office.)  You can change this daily, hourly, etc.

Add or Change Your Picture.

You can use a picture from your computer, an external drive, or a photo from any public website such as Yammer, OneDrive, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., as your Skype for Business photo. (Make sure your photo is business appropriate.)

Smart Contacts List and Groups

The first time you use Skype for Business 2016, it checks your company’s global address book and picks out those people who share the same manager. You’ll see your contacts listed already, including your manager and the people on your team, and that all are tagged for status updates.

You can add a contact or group within Skype for Business.  Simply type in a name in the search bar. You can choose to look in your contacts or the Skype Directory, and then add them.  In the dropdown on the right side, you can add a new group and name it. You can then simply click a contact and drag and drop him/her into your group. Now, you can IM or email your entire group. This is what we mean when we say Skype for Business easily integrates with your Outlook, Office or Office 365.

Find and Add Contacts with Quick Search.

You can locate anyone with a Skype Name, whether or not they’re in your organization. Then you can add them to your contacts list, view their presence information (e.g. online, away, offline), send and receive instant messages, and make audio and video calls.

Keep it Brief with an Instant Message (IM)

Skype for Business instant messaging (IM) is an efficient way to connect with your contacts in real time and at a moment’s notice.  It’s less formal than using email, faster than a phone call, and tough to beat for speed and ease of use. It’s great for expediency. For example, you can IM a team member while on the phone with a client if you need additional information for your call.

When you hover over a contact you’ll have options for contacting them.  You’ll see if your contact is available, and you can simply choose the IM icon and start communicating.  You can flag the IM if you need to set it as a priority, use specific fonts, and even add emoticons to show how you’re feeling (e.g., happy, stressed or worried).  You can send an IM to anyone in your contacts.  Just make sure their status is available (green).

Add Video While in IM.

With Skype for Business you can easily add face-to-face video in your Instant Message.  Locate the video on your computer from within Skype for Business, and simply run it. Make sure the audio/video radio buttons are pressed when sharing your screen.  Also, make sure the contact(s)’ status is available (green).  Disconnect the call by hitting the red button at the bottom.

If you know you’re scheduled for a Skype call and you want to make sure your surrounding area is appropriate, hit the arrow button on your Options/Tools/Video Setting and turn on your Webcam. Now, you can see what others will see.

For audio calls, instead of hovering over the video button, hover over the audio button.  To invite more people, you can simply drag and drop their icon into the call, or go to the Invite More option.

Offline Messaging

When you start to send a Skype for Business message to someone who is offline, you’ll receive a message confirming that, even though the person is offline, they will get the message. (Unlike the old Skype which simply let you know your message was undeliverable.)

Give Them a Call Using the Call Button.

Skype for Business automatically detects your devices, such as a headset, microphone, speakers, and cameras.  This makes calling your contacts fast and easy. Because Skype for Business integrates with Office 365, you can work from anywhere. (You can also record your meetings and tell Skype for Business where to save the recording.)

Make and Receive Video Calls.

With Skype for Business 2016 you can make face-to-face video calls with your contacts.  All you need is a camera and your computer’s speakers and microphone.  You can also use a headset if your computer doesn’t have a built-in audio device.

When someone calls you, you’ll see a prompt at the bottom right of the screen telling you this.  You can accept or decline the call.

Schedule a Skype Meeting Right from Outlook.

You can use Outlook or Outlook Web App to schedule a Skype meeting—The same way you schedule a meeting normally, but with one or two extra clicks. Simply schedule a new meeting right from your Outlook Calendar.  You can create a meeting with just a few clicks.

Preload Meeting Attachments

Get a quick start to meetings by preloading attachments when you set up your online meeting in Outlook, so you can get started as soon as the participants join.  Your participants will get notified about the attachments, and get a link to them with their invitation.

Note: With Skype PSTN at $4 extra per month, anyone can dial into a conference from any phone. Otherwise, everything is computer or smartphone-based.

There are additional features in Skype for Business 2016 you’ll surely be interested in.  If you’d like to learn about them, or if you’re interested in an Office 365 Migration and Training Assistance, contact Rob Schenk, Partner at Intivix, at: 415-231-1556 or [email protected]