Now that you know how to make voice and video calls on Skype, learn how to avoid common communication problems like poor audio quality, webcam mishaps, and other technical issues. Just follow these tips, and keep them in mind every time you use Skype.
Finding the right spot
Before you sit down to make a call, think about your surroundings. Is there a lot of background noise? Are there people nearby who might overhear you? This is especially important if you like to use Skype from your laptop or mobile device. Here's some advice to help you find the right location.
- For voice calls, choose a quiet spot without a lot of background noise. If you're at home or work, watch out for things like the TV, other people talking and moving around, or construction noise outside. If you're in public, avoid busy places like the local coffeeshop unless you have a headset with a microphone.
- For video calls, also choose a quiet spot that's relatively private. A room in your house or a place at the office would be ideal. Make sure it's well-lit so the other person can see you, and be conscious of what else might be caught on camera. For example, you might want to tidy up first—or pick a different location—if the room is messy, or if it contains anything you don't want other people to see.
Making the call
Have you ever been on a call in which the other person sounded far away? How about a video call where the webcam appeared to be shaking? These are common problems that usually come down to user error, not a technical issue. To make sure the other person can see and hear you clearly, follow these tips:
- For voice calls, a headset is foolproof, but don't worry if you don't have one. If you have a separate microphone, all you have to do is place it in front of you and speak clearly into the mic. If you have a built-in microphone, find out where it is on your computer and sit close by it so you don't sound too quiet or far away.
- For video calls, follow the advice above, then make sure your webcam is secure and pointing directly at you. This way, it won't shake or accidentally leave you out of the frame. You should also be conscious of eye contact, as well as how to maintain it during important calls—like for a job interview. Instead of watching the screen, look up when it's your turn to talk, and speak directly into the camera.
Playing it safe
When you make calls on Skype, it's important to also keep safety and courtesy in mind. Even though you're most likely talking to people you trust, you can expose yourself—and others—in unexpected ways. For example, how would you feel if you were dancing in your living room, then realized your coworker was watching you on Skype? To avoid mishaps, always keep these safety tips in mind.
- If someone walks into the room, let the person know you're on a call. Otherwise, he or she could say—or do—something disruptive or inappropriate without even realizing you're using Skype. This is especially important if you're on a video call. Not everyone is comfortable appearing on camera.
- If you're not conversing in a private space, also give the caller fair warning. Otherwise, the same risks apply. The person on the other end is just as likely to say or do something in confidence, then regret it—or become angry—after finding out you're not alone.
- Be conscious of other people when using Skype in public. Be careful not to discuss personal information such as your address, bank account, or Social Security Number. You never know who could be listening, and you don't want your information to be used for identity theft.
- Always hang up when you're done. It's the only way to prevent the other person from seeing or hearing you later by accident—like when you're dancing in your living room! If you choose to leave the call engaged while you do something else (maybe during a study group), be especially mindful of your privacy. It's easy to forget the presence of another person when that person is not physically in the room.
Solving technical issues
When you experience a technical problem on Skype, the best place to go for help is its website—and specifically the Support homepage. There, you can choose a topic or conduct a search related to your problem (for example, strange sound, or why do I hear an echo). Topics from the support site that you may find useful include: