How to Manage Conference Calls with Skype

Managing Skype conference calls doesn't require any additional software. If you have Skype on your Windows PC or Mac, the conference calling capability is built in.

The people you conference with don't have to use the same kind of computer platform as you do. They can use a wireless mobile Skype device, such as an iPhone or a Windows Mobile device, and because you can conference with anyone reachable using Skype’s Call Phones option, participants can even take a conference call on their landlines and mobile phones.

One difference between Skype conference calling and the more traditional conference call systems is that with Skype, you conference call out to reach all the parties, rather than have them call in to you.

Starting a conference call in Skype

Follow these steps for making an easy Skype conference call:

  1. In your Skype client window, Ctrl+click the Skype contacts you want to include in your conference.

    As you select multiple contacts, the green handset button you use to start Skype calls changes appearance and now says Call Group.

  2. Click the Call Group button, and Skype calls the selected contacts.

If you have added the Call Phones service to your Skype account, you can include contacts with land-line or cell phone numbers, as well as Skype-equipped contacts, in your conference calls. Before making the call, just add a contact and supply a regular phone number in the contact information.

Once that contact is added, you can immediately include that contact in any conference call you initiate. Of course, if there is a charge for the Call Phones service (which depends on where you are calling), you will incur those regular charges.

Reconnecting a dropped caller when using Skype

During a conference call, connections can be dropped unexpectedly. You can reestablish the dropped connection without having to restart the conference call, as follows:

  1. The person who was dropped will see the wording on the green call button change to Join Group. He or she can just click that to rejoin the call.

  2. If that doesn’t work, you can click the Contacts tab to go to your Skype contact list.

    In your contact list, all the call participants should be already selected.

  3. Ctrl+click the dropped contact and click the green call button on the Skype client window.

    The dropped contact gets added back into the call, and you don't have to close the current connections.

Seeing who's doing the talking with Skype

A great feature in Skype lets you see who is talking. The feature shows up differently on the Windows and Mac platforms.

On Windows, a pulsating halo surrounds the icon of the person currently speaking, which appears on the top of the screen. On a Mac, the sound meter level for the speaking participant increases. Now you can really "see" who is doing the talking in your conference calls (it’s seasoned skyper in both examples).

If multiple participants are speaking, you may see more than one halo pulsating at the same time.

Skype conference calls are handier when the participants can share a common text window to type in text messages and provide live URL links during the conference call. Fortunately, Skype provides that capability automatically. Just start the conference call and each member of the group can type messages in the text box at the bottom of the screen while talking.

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