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Free Audio Conferencing For Up To 100 Participants: Skypecasting For Beginners - How To Do It
Skype defines Skypecasts as: "large, hosted conference calls on Skype with groups of up to 100 people participating from anywhere in the world." And this is indeed what Skypecasts are: mega audio conferences with one important characteristic... all the costs are on Skype.
Skypecasts launched last year and immediately captured the attention of many Skype users. The possibility to freely set up and organize large audio conferences in less than five minutes was definitely too juicy to go unnoticed.
And so the audio conferencing facility called Skypecasting suddenly opened up new opportunities to all those who were in need to showcase products online, organize e-learning courses or simply wanted to start an audio conference with more than four participants (which is currently the maximum number of attendees allowed by Skype).
In this mini-guide I am going to show you how to set up a Skypecast and how to make it work properly. Feel free to share with me your experiences with Skypecasting as well by using the comments section at the end of the article. As always, your suggestions are very welcome.
Create your Skypecast
First thing, point your browser to www.skypecast.com; you will be forwarded to the Skypecast page on the official Skype website. As soon as you get there you will need to log in with your Skype username and password, in order to be recognized by the site.
Before creating your own Skypecast, you might want to make sure that your current time zone is set correctly by entering the requested data. To do that, click on "Your Skypecast" and when the new page loads, click on the "Options" link available on the right side of the screen.
Once you are there, select your time zone. Additionally, if daylight savings time is observed in your country I suggest you to pay attention to this detail and check the little box that will allow Skype to automatically update your time settings.
When you have done this, you can head back to the Skypecasts homepage and start creating your Skypecast: of course the next step to take is to choose "Create a Skypecast".
Once the new page loads, you will be requested to fill out a form; here I will guide you step by step:
You will be requested to enter a subject (it will be the name if your Skypecast, so choose it carefully) and a short description of the topic you are going to discuss (I suggest you not to enter the URL of a website in the description box. Words longer than 20 characters are not accepted and you can enter a reference URL at the end of the form anyway). You will then have to choose the language of your Skypecast and select whether or not you want it to be listed in the Skypecasts directory or in the Live Tab that appears in every Skype application.
In the next step you will be asked to provide information about the time and day when your Skypecast will take place. Select the day and the start time of your event and decide its duration. However, if you plan to make the Skypecast last one hour, I suggest you to set the duration time to two hours, since it would be useful to have more time available in case technical problems occur.
Furthermore, Skype will automatically end the Skypecast once the duration time you have set up is fully expired , and therefore you might find your Skypecast to be interrupted abruptly when you might like it the least.
If you wish to start the Skypecast immediately, select the other option and it will begin right away.
You will be also able to enter specific keywords to identify your Skypecast. Choose them carefully so that they will help you show up in the Skypecast directory under different but complementary and relevant terms.
Skype also allows you to choose a picture to represent your Skypecast. You can select one among the themes available or, alternatively, upload one from your computer (in the latter case, the picture must be in .gif, .jpg or .png format. Maximum size 2MB).
Preview the summary of your Skypecast to make sure everything is correct and then read the terms of agreement to confirm that you accept the Skypecasts Community Guidelines. Once you click on "Agree" you will land on a page that confirms that your Skypecast has been successfully created.
Hosting and Moderating
You may wish to run your Skypecast as an open discussion or a one-way broadcast with questions and answers at the end. Either way, the Skypecasts moderation tools will help you.
In fact, once your Skypecast has begun, you can mute or unmute selected participants or all participants from the Skypecasts controls.
Muting participants will help to improve call quality for you and your participants. When participants are muted, they can request the microphone if they wish to speak. You can use chat to ask them what they wish to talk about and then pass them the virtual microphone to speak.
If certain participants are being disruptive you can eject them from the Skypecast at any moment.
Currently you cannot record your Skypecast from within Skype. However, there are third-party products that let you record conversations (such as Powergramo, HotRecorder, Pamela, Skylook and PrettyMay).
Two important tips for Skypecast hosts:
- Remember that you must warn other participants that you are recording the Skypecast at the start of the call.
- Don't forget to make a note of the time of your Skypecast so you remember to sign in and host it and don't leave your audience waiting in silence.
Promote your Skypecast
Promoting your Skypecast will boost the number of participants you have in your discussion making it more lively and interesting for you and your attendees.
The simplest way to do it is to click on "Your Skypecasts", then click again on the name of the Skypecast you want to promote, copy the URL in the browser address bar and paste it into any IM window or email.
There are lots of other ways to promote your Skypecast such as emailing friends, posting your Skypecast in a related forum or even adding a HTML snippet or Skypecasts feed to your website or blog.
Remember that all Skype users will be able to check which are the currently active Skypecasts by clicking on the Live Tab in the main window of their Skype: therefore, it is very important that you set up your Skypecast to be public if you want it to stand out.
Benefits of Skypecasts
The advantages of using Skypecasts are indeed numerous. Here is a list of the ones that came to my mind:
- Skypecasts are free to set up, free to host and free to join.
- Skype audio quality makes it one of the best tools for audio conferencing
- Skypecasts seamlessly integrate with Skype, making it very easy to interact with participants
- The possibility to host up to 100 participants for free is very appealing in case you want to conduct e-learning sessions, product demonstrations and anything that relates to online collaboration
- You can integrate a link to your Skypecasts on your personal website or blog
- If you set your Skypecast to be public it will appear in the Skypecast homepage and you will be able to attract random visitors who are just browsing the Skypecast directory
Learn more on Skypecasts
If you have any questions or comments, visit the Skypecasts forum.
Read the Skype blog to stay updated with the latest news.
Check out the Skypecasts help section on the official Skype site.
Livia Iacolare -
Originally written by Livia Iacolare for Master New Media and originally published as: "How To Create A Skypecast: A Mini-Guide"