I covered training in the past, for Lync Server, a few times.
The latest post is: 7 Questions from a Lync Training Session

But I haven’t posted about training for Skype for Business use. Until now.

I intend this post as a guide for building your own Skype training. Don’t follow the form exactly; you might gloss over something your staff or customers want to address further. Instead, think of the following as a skeleton – with some meat on it – from which to build your own training sessions.

Part 1: Major Points to Cover in Training

When starting a Skype training session, I first introduce myself, and state what we’re all here for. Then I use a lead-in to get the trainees talking (that way I’m not “talking at them” the whole time).

Depending on the audience involved, I’ve used these as lead-ins.

  • How many of you use “regular” Skype?
  • By now you’ve had a chance to play with Skype for Business. Any questions before we start?
  • What we’re covering today is a complete communications system. Skype for Business contains a set of communications tools…some you may know about, some you may not.

Then, I move into these major points.

  1. Skype4B Features: Instant Messaging, Presence, Enterprise Voice/VoIP, Conferencing, Persistent Chat
    • Common questions I get here: What is Presence? What’s VoIP? Does this change how we make calls? Is this like Shoretel/RingCentral/Citrix? Prepare short qualifying answers for these.
    • Example: “Presence is a status indicator. It tells everyone if you can talk right now, or if you’re in a call. You use it to tell others when you’re busy or not.”
  2. Meetings Capabilities: Video, Desktop Sharing, PowerPoint Sharing, Whiteboard
    • Most people aren’t interested in Polls, so I stopped including them.
  3. UX Differences in Skype for Business vs. other Tools
    • For some, the popup windows Skype creates when a phone call starts are distracting. You’ll want to make users aware of where each communication tool appears on their computer, and why it’s doing that. (A good way to justify these popup windows is to say that they give you the opportunity to expand the conversation further. Add video, or share a file.)

Part 2: Intro to Hardware Used

PolyCom CX600This part’s highly adaptable, for obvious reasons. The hardware one customer uses is different from what another customer uses.
We often install these:

  1. Polycom CX600 phones. PolyCom CX600 Quick User Guide (PDF)
  2. Polycom RealPresence Trio Hubs for conference rooms.  (Review Part 1) (Review Part 2)
  3. Headsets vary between Jabra and Plantronics models.

Normally I refer trainees to the User Guide after going through the hardware’s purpose and functions. Then I show how to use the hardware when performing Skype tasks.

Part 3: How to Perform Basic Tasks in Skype for Business

It’s at this point where I preemptively apologize. Some trainees already know the basics, and if I don’t warn them ahead of time, they can lose interest in the training when I cover those basics again. But I have to cover them–at least one person in every training session doesn’t know the basics!

So I spend a few minutes on how to:

  • Send an IM
  • Change your Presence status (make sure to point out the difference in Busy vs. Do Not Disturb)
  • Make a Call (via desktop client first, then via whatever phone or headset they have)
  • Schedule a Meeting
  • Join Meetings

Part 4: How to Use the Skype for Business iOS App

This is really popular! Every time I get to talking about the app, someone interrupts me to ask for it on their phones.
I cover what it does: Access Skype Contacts, make calls, check voicemail, join meetings
And what it doesn’t: Schedule meetings, call someone back who left a voicemail, see Contact Cards.

Skype for Business on iOS is Good, Not Perfect
Mobile Client Comparison Tables for Skype for Business – TechNet

Since it’s very difficult to showcase a phone screen in the middle of a group training session, I always say I’ll meet with individuals who want the app afterward. Invariably, someone wants me to run them through it at their desk.

Part 5: Q&A

Conference Room

There’s always questions. Normally I take questions throughout the training; people are always curious about something. However, some dedicated time at the end gives me room to answer questions in more detail, or to prompt users for post-training questions.

Common questions I receive at this stage:

  • What if we have two meetings scheduled at the same time?
    (In reference to booking a RealPresence Trio.) I told them that one meeting would get the time, but the other wouldn’t have the Trio available.
  • Can we park calls?
    Call park is a stalwart of old PBX days. It’s no longer necessary, since you can easily transfer calls within Skype. I tell users that Call Park does exist within Skype for Business, but it’s not enabled by default. We only enable it on request.
  • How do we mute everyone [in a meeting]?
    For some reason, people like making other people quiet down! I point out the Mute All option in a Skype Meeting (it’s under “Actions” in the People menu), and on devices like the RealPresence Trio Hub.

Training Helps Us Make Skype Usable for Everyone

I’ve done quite a few training sessions this summer. We’ve had lots of new Skype for Business (server and hybrid) installations complete. Once we’re close to finishing, we ask the customers if they’d like training, or reference documentation (we make 2-8 page “QuickCards” for these). Often customers opt for training, which we’re happy to provide.

During the last session I had (just last week) someone commented, “this (Skype for Business) is really tech-heavy.” I responded with, “That’s true, it is. There’s a lot of meat to the system. If you spend a little time with it, you’ll see how useful it becomes.”

She appeared to like the idea. I installed the iOS app on her phone, at her request, 30 minutes later. Taking Skype from the desktop, with all its power, and moving it onto a very familiar platform (her phone) made it more reachable for her.

Which is the whole point of our training. Skype for Business is a powerful and complex system, yes. Our primary training goal is to make it useful for each customer, in their own day-to-day work activities.

Do you train users on Skype for Business? What kinds of questions do you hear from users? Please comment or email them, even if they’re off-the-wall. Especially if they’re off-the-wall; I love those!

How to Train Users on Skype for Business

6 thoughts on “How to Train Users on Skype for Business

  • August 31, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Nice! I just went through this kind of training excercise, but I had to factor in a large Mac OS userbase. I tried to seperate the training by OS whenever I could since the interface and features are still so different between those 2 clients. Also, I used airplay to showcase the mobile app on our confernce room screen.

    • August 31, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      That’s a good thing to consider. Skype for Business’ Mac client is still working through beta.

      I ran into this one the other day in fact – three people walked into the training carrying MacBooks. Nobody forewarned me!

  • September 1, 2016 at 6:36 am

    This is a good outline to help direct user adoption training. I would add that it is important to share some ‘why’s’ in the process to ensure understanding why the decision was made for the organization to move to S4B and the benefits of the solution.
    Great piece.

    • May 10, 2017 at 1:24 am

      I am an IT Training & Support Specialist in a UK University and we are in the middle of a ‘Proof of Concept’ trial period for a select few members of staff. I have been offering 1-hour ‘drop in’ sessions for people to pop along to our training room for me to go through some of the features.

      The key question from all attendees to date is: “Why?”, “Why are we changing to Skype for Business, when we already use…?”

      I agree, it would appear the biggest hurdle is people’s need to understand ‘why the change’?

  • October 13, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Hi, we are considering replacement of our existing VoIP system (Vonage which is similar to RingCentral) with Skype4B. All our employees will then start using Skype4B as a phone system either from phone on the desk (Polycom 600) or iOS etc.

    What is your experience, does this works?

    Do you get issues when you are talking on lets say IOS app and suddenly you get regular call on same mobile device. What happens to existing Skype call


    • October 17, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Hi Milindba,

      Thanks for commenting. We’ve done moves from RingCentral to Skype4B. The only real issues we had were making sure the numbers got ported correctly to the new system. Once they did, adoption went pretty fast.

      In terms of calls coming in on mobile, my iPhone did what it usually does – told me a new call was coming in, and did I want to hold my current call? It works fine. Though we’re supposed to get a new iOS client soon. As soon as we get RTM version, I’ll make sure to test this (and everything else!).

      Please email me if you have more questions about a Vonage-to-Skype4B upgrade path: chris.williams@planetmagpie.com . Happy to help you out.


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