In Social Media Tips

Google + HangoutsLast week one of my Google + buddies saw that I was doing a webinar and asked why I wasn’t using a Google + Hangout to do my online meeting.  I had to admit that I had no idea how it worked. So Jerry offered to hold a hangout with me to show me how it’s done.

I was impressed and can’t wait to use it again. Here is the deal on G+ Hangouts.

Hangouts are a great way for you and nine guests to meet face-to-face from wherever you are. The person starting the Hangout can invite up to nine other people from their circles to join them on the hangout. All ten people can view and speak directly to each other. You can share Google Docs and make changes to the Docs. It also offers the ability to have screen sharing which is great for client meetings and trainings.

One of the most amazing features is that you can set up the Hangout to be a YouTube video and embed it on your website so that other people can participate by viewing the live stream even if they don’t have a Google + account.  The Hangout will be saved to YouTube and if you leave it embedded on a page on your website, people can view it anytime in the future.

I haven’t tried this but if you chose to do what is called Hangouts on Air, or HOA, there is a plugin called Cameraman that comes with HOA that allows you to control which participants in the Hangout are visible to the audience along with their audio.  People use this feature to begin a hangout with just the host visible to the audience, and then when the host is ready to bring in a guest, they can be made visible, too.  When the segment with that guest is finished they can be hidden again. There are tricks to doing this with a second person acting as the producer making what looks like a professionally done video.

According to my friend Jerry, employees at Google Headquarters internally use 10,000 hangouts per day!

There are several ways to start a hangout:

  1. Go to plus.google.com/hangouts and click the Start a Hangout button on the top right side of your screen, or
  2. Click the Hangouts icon underneath an interesting post on your Home page to start a hangout about the post, or
  3. Click the Hangouts icon  on the left side of the page and click Start a Hangout under the ‘HANGOUT INVITE’ section.
You can also start a hangout and send and receive hangout invites from Google Chat on gmail.

Once you start a hangout you’ll be taken to an invite screen where you’ll be able to:

  1. Make sure your mic and camera are working correctly by looking at your video feed at the bottom of the page. You should be able to see yourself in the video feed, and when you talk, you should see a green bar appear at the bottom of your video. If you’re having issues with your mic or camera, try these troubleshooting steps.
  2. Invite entire circles or specific individuals to join you in your hangout. Learn more about inviting people to your hangout.Your video feed will not be visible to anyone else until you click the green Invite button on the Invite page.
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