China, Mexico, Italy, Brazil, Australia. Not a day goes by when I don't communicate with friends or peers in those countries and more. From Tweets to Instagram to Chats, the world is literally at your fingertips and for those of us who have loved ones all over the globe, we couldn't be happier. Which is why we jumped at the chance to learn how to use Skype, the leading video chat platform, more effectively in our everyday lives.
In between demonstrating video-chats in the kitchen with top chefs and learning how an industry leader like Pamela Love uses Skype, it was pretty clear that connecting with friends in our digital world has never been easier. Need to collaborate with a blogging peer? Skype him/her in and get to planning. Working with a brand on a campaign and need to show your pictures/post? You can share your collateral through Skype, no matter the file size.
Embracing Skype into your daily life isn't hard and with a few tips, you can create conversations that are seamless and productive, regardless of where you and your fellow chatter are.
1. Always run a test for your test Skype calls. There is nothing worse than showing up for your video chat five minutes before showtime and having a major video fail. Like the WIFI won't work or the background is too busy or the cafe you're in is way too loud. Prepare yourself by running a test video chat the night before and make sure your settings are adjusted accordingly. You can run a test video chat by clicking on Contacts. The Skype Test Call option is listed in your contacts page so all you have to do is hit call. This test will gauge your video and audio settings, making for a seamless Skype call.
2. Use natural lighting. Forgo the awful fluorescent lighting and set up shop next to a window, if possible. Natural lighting makes your skin tone look more natural and even.
3. Find the best quality equipment. You can only do so much to look good in front of the camera. The rest is all up to your video equipment. While the built-in webcam on your laptop or desktop will work, it isn't the best. There are so many option out there but we decided to try out the new Microsoft LifeCam Studio which has delivers HD-quality video and has a microphone built inside. To change your Audio/Video settings on a Mac, go to the top navigation bar, click on Skype, Go to Preferences. A window will pop up and you will need to go to the Audio/Video tab. This is where you can find settings for your microphone, speakers, volume, and webcam. Adjust your settings and add new equipment in this tab and see the video quality difference below.
4. Use Skype's File Transfers in meetings or interviews instead of emailing large files or syncing up Dropbox accounts. The file transfer feature has been one of our favorites in the office. Form larger Photoshop files to videos, you can share creative images or important projects with just a click of a button. On a Mac, simply click on the “+” symbol next to the contacts name and hit “Send Files”. It's that simple.
Do you have any questions about how to use Skype? Is there a trick to making Skype run flawlessly that you want to share? Submit your feedback below!Disclosure: Independent Fashion Bloggers wasn't not paid for this post. IFB was invited to a Skype event and was gifted the Microsoft LifeCam Studio webcam.