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How Skype has changed the way we communicate

Communication is the act of transmitting thoughts, opinions, ideas, and information (the message) from one person (the communicator) to another (the receiver).  It is a process that requires a medium.

Traditional communication medium
Traditionally, business management communicated with employees through written memoranda.  The boss would dictate or type the message, make copies of the memo and distribute the same to the employees.

This day and age, however, a person reads, hears and sees so much that his mind is simply incapable of retaining every piece of information that it has received.  Among the information that a human being receives, written messages have the least chance of being retained.  This means that written memos can be very ineffective communication media.

Memos, aside from the fact that the messages they contain do not usually get retained, are also restrictive means of communication.  It is so formal that it restricts spontaneous and honest reactions.  It also does not facilitate interaction; it’s mainly used for top-down communication.

This does not bode well for people in lower levels; such employees couldn’t feel empowered and efficacious if their ideas, thoughts and opinions can’t even get heard in their business organisation.  The business also loses out since it couldn’t benefit from its people’s unique talents, skills and varying points of view; these could have been tapped had the business created a looping communication and feedback channel.

The Skype communication medium
Skype is a welcome alternative to traditional modes of communication.  It is an Internet Protocol or IP-based communication method that allows people who have a computer, an internet connection and the Skype client software – which can be downloaded for free – to communicate with one another.  Skype also makes use of various communication media:  text, graphics, sounds, and video.

The above qualities of the Skype communication channels have brought about three major changes to the way we communicate:

• We retain much more information.
Multimedia messages – those with both visual and aural elements – are much more easily retained than mere visual or mere aural messages.  Skype is fully capable of multimedia communication; in fact, Skype offers video calling for free.  Skype is thus a potentially effective medium for business communication.

• Employees and team members feel much more empowered.
Skype is not a top-down communication channel.  It offers free conference calls.  Thus nine people can communicate and interact simultaneously online.  This way, one person’s message gets transmitted to a lot of people – who can immediately react and give the original communicator their feedback.  Thus, communication channels are open between one user and each of the other participants in the conference.

Multi-channel communication empowers team members and employees to comment, suggest and – overall – improve on other people’s ideas and suggestions.  A company that uses Skype communication tools is thus able to tap into a wealthy reserve of creative talent and skill.

• Businesses go global –easily and inexpensively.
Skype calling, messaging, video calling, and call conferencing are offered for free.  Thus, businesses have found an easy and inexpensive way of expanding globally and communicate with independent contactors abroad, mobile employees and international clients.

Indeed, Skype is effective, is empowering; makes people more responsive and interactive, has a wide reach, and is free.  Definitely, it is one communication tool that you should look into.  Take a look at www.skype.com

4 comments

  • Bruce Anderson said on October 1st, 2007 at 5:28 pm :

    I run a small business and always look for ways where I can use technology to cut my costs. It is a great article, which compares traditional communication tools with Skype. I am so thrilled after reading the article that I am just going to download the software and try it out while communicating with my clients, suppliers and employees.

  • Joe Franz said on October 1st, 2007 at 5:33 pm :

    Mark when you are talking about the traditional communication medium, I think you are going too far into history. I don’t think we use memos in abundance since the telecommunication has become popular. The prominent way of communication over the last couple of decades has been telecommunication, which is being replaced by teleconferencing and video-conferencing. Yes, memos are still written for matters which have legal and regulatory ramifications. Skype is just making it possible over Internet. Thus, most of benefits you are talking about like empowerment, retention etc. are not limited to Skype only but to all other tools that make use of audio and video. However, I agree that it is adding another tool in the arsenal of corporate managers to communicate.

  • Dennis Mull said on October 1st, 2007 at 7:03 pm :

    Skype is a good tool for communication especially for small business. I have been using it for quite some time and find it very useful. Before Skype, I was using Instant Massagers to communicate with my overseas clients. The problem with IM was time lag between messages that resulted in digressing the point of discussion many a times and it was a skill to keep it from digressing. Skype’s multi-channel communication abilities where we can make use of various communication media such as text, graphics, sounds, and video are its greatest strengths.

  • Martin Taylor said on October 1st, 2007 at 7:08 pm :

    Skype is yet another development to bring the world more closer by not only reducing the cost of communication but also improving the quality of communication. Skype provides the opportunity for synchronous communication where all parties to the discussion can put their point of view simultaneously which is second best to the face-to-face communication. I would always place the face-to-face communication as the best way of communication as the touch and feel it adds to the communication can never be added by any kind of technology. However, obviously the use of face-to-face communication has its limitations for the time and cost constraints

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