Skype for Business has a simple user interface that is easy to navigate and most first-time users can learn it within minutes and begin communicating, but it also has a large feature set and many long-time Skype users may never discover all the little settings and features that are available through day-to-day usage.
We will be covering the lesser known features and settings of Skype for Business that can help make you a more efficient communicator.
In Skype for Business, there are five different relationship categories which affect the level of privacy you have between contacts. Each offers their own level of transparency between contacts and you can choose what is appropriate for each contact.
If you add a contact within your own organization, by default they are designated as “Colleagues”. Contacts outside your organization are “External Contacts”. At any point, you can change the relationship of any contact by right clicking on that contact and selecting “Change Privacy Relationship”.
For most users, the default relationship of Colleague or External work perfectly fine and many never change their privacy relationship settings, but there are instances where this is important. The most common use cases of this feature is to elevate people with your own organization from Colleague to Workgroup, which allows them to view your mobile number on your contact card, and interrupt a Do Not Disturb status. Many organizations run into scenarios where being able to interrupt a Do Not Disturb status is important. Executives with assistants generally use this feature so that their assistant can still IM or Call them when they don’t want to be disturbed by others.
Another use case is elevating the privacy relationship of users in External Contacts so that they can view your full Presence and Contact Card. With an External Contact you can only see their presence as Available, Busy, or Away. In some cases, you may be working closely with someone outside of your organization and want them to have more access to your availability and allow them to see presences like, In a Call, In a Conference Call, or In a Meeting.
Contact List Settings
Your contact list is where you spend most of your time in Skype for Business and is where you initiate all your communications. It works best when you have it customized to your liking. Inside of the Settings under the “Contact List” tab, you can find some very useful settings.
The first setting that improves your Skype efficacy is changing how your contacts are displayed from “Contact Name and Picture” to just “Contact Name Only”. This allows you to view twice as many contacts on your list which makes finding the person you want to talk to involve much less scrolling.
The second important setting change is how you want your contact list ordered. By default, is it ordered alphabetically with the “By Name” setting, but changing this to “By Availability” orders your contacts so only people who are actively using Skype are moved to the top, and everyone inactive, away, or offline are moved to the bottom. This helps by putting the people you are most likely going to communicate with (the people currently online) at the top of your list, giving you quick access.
Another way to achieve this is to check the box “Show contacts with away, offline, and unknown presences in a separate group”. This moves contacts who aren’t currently online out of their current group and to the “Away and Offline Contacts” Group.
Using the CTRL key in Skype for Business
Holding the CTRL key on your keyboard while clicking on a contact allows you to select multiple contacts on your contact list. With multiple contacts selected, you can initiate communication with these contacts or manage them within your contact list. Once you have a group selected, right click on any of the selected contacts and you will have a menu of actions.
Whether you want to send a group IM, start a conference call, or just do some contact list maintenance and remove multiple contacts, all these actions are performed easiest when you can quickly select multiple contacts using the CTRL key.
This also allows you to add multiple contacts as well. For example, if you search a common name or a common letter you might see multiple contacts you want to add to your list. You can add multiple contacts at once, by holding the CTRL key, selecting them, then right click and select “Add to …”.