Tips for Using Skype for Meetings or Interviews

This week, my blog post about Relationship Dramas can be seen over at Coaching Confidence (click here)

So, instead this guest post was provided by Erin Palmer – a writer and editor with Bisk Education. Erin works with the online programs for prestigious universities such as Villanova University. Erin can be reached on Twitter @Erin_E_Palmer.


With much of the public sector facing spending cuts, alternatives need to be explored to remain productive and efficient while staying under the bottom line. Once such tool, video conferencing, is changing the way we do business by reducing travel and training-related expenses. Instead of dealing with mileage reimbursement and hotel bills, video conferencing helps to efficiently use time and energy within a lower budget.

One of the most popular video conferencing services being used is Skype. The software application provides a lot of services including free phone calls to landlines, but its video conferencing feature has grown in popularity. As is with any new endeavor, there are some tips to follow that will make your first (or next) meeting run a little smoother.

Make your environment distraction-free

With so many gadgets and devices floating around your workspace, something is bound to make a noise, light up or pull your attention away from the meeting. Remember that the other individuals participating in the meeting can see you. Remove clutter from your desk, make sure unnecessary electronics are turned off and keep people from coming into the office while conferencing. Be respectful of other’s time.

Dress appropriately

Don’t forget to look professional. Just because you’re not meeting in person doesn’t mean you aren’t making an impression. Dress as if you were actually going into a face-to-face meeting and make sure to do a spot check before you go live. Having a ketchup stain on your shirt or being dressed in pajamas is not appropriate.

Choose the right meeting time

Give careful consideration to the time you schedule the meeting. Too early or too late in the day both have their downfalls (both lend to less interaction from the group as they wake up or are winding down). If you’re working across different time zones, remember to account for the time difference and try to accommodate everyone.

Create specific parameters for the meeting duration

Letting everyone know how long a meeting is going to last will help keep everyone focused and moving forward on the meeting objectives. Be clear on a start time and sign in early, especially if you are running the show. It’s okay if the meeting runs a little long, but don’t keep everyone on if you’re only having a discussion with one individual.

Prepare materials and add contacts beforehand

Being organized before the meeting is very important. Have key statistics or data nearby that you can reference when needed. It is a waste of everyone’s time if you are trying to search for an important number or file while everyone is waiting on you. Moreover, sending an outline or other specific data to attendees beforehand will help to keep the meeting on point. This allows the other participates to generate questions beforehand and makes it easier to get lively participation.

Equally important is getting contact information, ideally before the meeting starts. Include alternative phone numbers should there be a problem with Skype or the connection. Being able to quickly reach other participants in the event of a problem will help salvage meetings and relationships.

Make sure that your speakers/microphones are in working order

It is vital to make sure everything you need for the video conference is working before it starts. Test everything with someone at the office so you know everything sounds and looks good. If you’ll be video conferencing on a regular basis, consider upgrading your microphone, getting a better camera, or buying a headset.

Listen intently

Remember that you’re on camera, so you should be paying close attention and listening to everything happening in the meeting. Be aware of your facial expressions and always be engaged. You’re on camera, so some physical cues like nodding and smiling will let the others know that you’re listening.

Skype and other video conferencing programs can really help the public sector cut down on costs without sacrificing productivity. Using proper meeting etiquette will help make video conferences just as effective and successful as in-house meetings.

These interview tips were provided by Villanova University’s online HR programs. Villanova offers human resources courses in addition to a Master’s Degree in Human Resources that is available 100% online. For more information please visit


Senior Leadership Teams: : What it takes to make them great. (Book Review)

I was asked to review this book by the Health Service Journal and my review was published last month.

As a leader, have you ever considered whether you really need a leadership team? This question is often ignored or the leader assumes that they’ve answered it, until they realise that their leadership team has become dysfunctional. 

This book commences by asking this question, followed by five further questions about the purpose and membership of a top-team and how this has an impact on the organisation’s performance.   The answers to these questions can provide valuable insight into a team’s understanding of how well they are working together. 

The authors provide a template which, in their view, is the foundation of a successful team.  In order to establish a high-performing team, six necessary conditions are required:  three essential (real team, right players and compelling direction) and three enabling (solid structure, supportive environment, team coaching).  The authors suggest that all six conditions do not have to be in place when a team is formed, but evidence of the team’s potential to obtain them is a pre-requisite. 

The last section of the book offers four key competencies which the authors believe are essential for a top team to possess. The book also describes four different types of leadership teams (information, consultative, co-ordinating, or decision-making) and how they should be deployed in an organisation.  The authors provide numerous case studies, although the majority are American and only two relate to healthcare.

I would recommend this book to newly-appointed Chief Executives and their top teams.  Organisational Development professionals will find the book useful when developing staff engagement or communication strategies within an organisation. 

This book is realistic:  it recognises that the journey from a collection of senior managers to a high performing top-team can be hard and painful, but ultimately rewarding.  There is nothing new in this book, but it stops and makes you think.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars


Authors:  Wageman, Ruth, Nunes, Debra, A., Burruss, James, A., Hackman, J. Richard

Publisher:  Harvard Business School Press

 You can purchase this book from Amazon