Tips to Having a Successful Google Hangout

Live Google HangoutsThere are a few reasons to get on Google Plus, but Google Hangouts offer a competitive advantage over the winning Social Media platform, Facebook. For most of us, it may be the only reason to choose Google Plus.  As some have already heard, Facebook offers video chat via a partnership with Skype, but only for one-on-one calls. Google Hangouts lets up to 15 people converse at once and may also be open to the public.  After the hangout, you can save the chat onto YouTube.  Learn more about Hangouts here.Currently there are many different businesses and consumers using Google Hangouts.  Some businesses conduct meetings with their staff and some brands conduct hangouts to connect better with their consumers.  There are many ways you could use Hangouts to promote your brand, business or just because.  This guide by Frasier Cain will give you the basics of Hangouts on Air.

Use The Right Tools

  • For starters, the quality of the video camera and microphone make a huge difference. Grab yourselves a good webcam like a Logitech 910C and a headset microphone. Try not to settle for crappy computer installed webcams.
  • Most headset microphones can sound really bad too, it’s worth investing in a USB headset, or even better, a desktop microphone like a Samson Go Mic.
  • Make sure you run your hangout on the fastest computer you have to avoid frozen images of yourself.  A fast computer will make the video as smooth as possible.  I’ve seen frozen videos happen way too often, doesn’t make you look good.
  • Every participant should use a wired line (not wireless) to fast upload speed.
  • Everyone should  wear headphones or earbuds to reduce echo. Strongly recommend this tip.
  • Avoid backlight, as it will make a person dark in the video. Try not to have a bright window behind you. Get some kind of light pointing at your face.
  • If you cant try to have an interesting fun background behind you. A plain white wall is kinda boring. But a big living room can look really cozy and nice. Just clean your house first ladies!
  • Try to get the camera positioned at eye level or even pointing slightly down at you. If you’re using a laptop, put it on a box or some books. It’ll look much better.
  • Thanks to a recent update, mobile devices can now join a Hangout on Air. This is a great time to experiment with new ideas. Take your Hangouts on the road and report from the scene.  How awesome will that be!  I can see your wheels turning chicas.

Lights, Camera, Action!

If you’re going to have a lot of people participating, start the Hangout early to get everyone in and settled, with the right devices, etc. Remember that the Hangout is secret until you actually hit broadcast.  Here are some initial preparations.

  • Keep in mind you can only invite people in your circles into the Hangout, so make sure you have all the people you want in a circle before you begin. If you do need to invite someone, and don’t have them in a circle, email them the URL to the private hangout interface, and they’ll be able to get access to it.
  • This is important, minimize the amount of programs running on your computer. Strip down your browser toolbars, turn off chat programs, etc.
  • Think about copyright/intellectual property before you start streaming. Make sure you own the rights to anything you broadcast, or you’re going to have to deal with unpleasant attorneys.
  • Don’t forget to promote your  Hangout via social media, like Twitter, Facebook, etc. When you go live, you’ll be able to copy-paste the URL and multiply the number of viewers.
  • To maximize your viewership, try to stick to a regular schedule. #LatinaGeeks will start recording every third Wednesday of the month at 7:00pm PST!  <shameless plug>
  • Create an intro screen graphic beforehand that introduces the Hangout. You’ll run this in your hangout for the first 5 minutes before you actually get started.  Makes you look like a pro!

And We’re LIVE!

The actual Hangout doesn’t go public until you actually click “Start Broadcast”. Your YouTube recording starts after that point too.  Here are additional tips to consider as your video goes LIVE!

  • When you do hit broadcast, the Hangout will appear in your stream, so you’ll want people to link directly to the post that contains the Hangout. That way you can get people to post comments, give feedback, etc. You want to get everyone at this single location.
  • You can get the permalink to the Hangout by right-clicking on the timestamp of the post that contains the Hangout.  Click here to learn how.
  • For the first 5 minutes of your Hangout, run a graphic that explains that the Hangout is about to start. Get all of the participants to mute their audio/video so it’s all black screens. You can’t talk to each other, but you can coordinate through chat. This will give your audience a few minutes to join in, and settle down. It also gives you time to Tweet, Facebook share and embed your Hangout in all your websites.
  • You can get the embed code for the video in the upper right-hand corner of the window. You can put that into websites. Nobody can see your video until you actually click “Start Broadcast”, so you can put the embed code on websites and don’t have to worry that people will see what you’re doing before you’re ready to broadcast. Viewers just see a message that the broadcast will start shortly.
  • Your live video will also be broadcast over on YouTube. People will be making comments over there, so make sure you watch for comments on both Google+ and YouTube.
  • Oh yes…people find typing and background noises really annoying, so encourage your guests to mute their microphones when they’re not talking.  And no eating or drinking while on a Hangout, please.
  • You’re the director. This means that you can override the camera switching that Google normally does. If you click on a person’s pane and make them the focus, the viewers will see that too. But you can also just let the Hangout handle the switching on its own. Just don’t forget to click the focus off again.
  • Use the Cameraman app within Hangouts on Air to hide and reveal participants to the Hangout. Once they’re hidden and then revealed, they’ll need to unmute themselves before they can talk.
  • Ladies, it’s okay to be casual and make mistakes. Viewers appreciate that it’s real and they’re not seeing some overly done production. But try to create the highest production quality you can.  Just be you.
  • During the course of the Hangout, you’ll see the total number of viewers listed in the upper right-hand corner of the Hangout. Woot-Woot!
  • If you want to let the public into your Hangout and join the broadcast, you can post a link to the Hangout into the comments. Anyone who clicks that link will appear in the Hangout. Once publicized, though, it can never be un-publicized. You’re stuck with anyone who jumps into your public show.
  • Your hangout is limited to 4 hours of total broadcast time. You’ll get a warning when you’re an hour away from the end of your time limit.  But we recommend to keep your Hangout’s short.

Someone Missed Your Hangout?  No Problem!  They can always catch it on YouTube once you saved it and uploaded the video on your channel.

So what do you think ladies?  Ready to give us a show!  Dont’ forget to catch #LatinaGeeks on their FIRST LIVE Google Hangout this Wednesday at 7:00pm PST!  Like #LatinaGeeks Google+ Page here.

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  • Justine Burgess

    Great information!

  • Great tips! Getting people “frozen” during a hangout is the worst!

  • I love this post! I have to admit, I”m really not a fan of google + and I don’t really know why. I think part of is that I I really don’t know how to use it. Thanks for sharing!

  • I love Google+ and the hangouts are one of the awesome features that is different and far better than Facebook’s video chat. Skype drives me nuts regularly, so i’m glad to have an alternative from that.

  • Jill

    I am just starting to do google hangouts…I love how they work.

  • Angelica Perez

    A much needed, well-written post on how to effectively use Google hangouts. We just recently began to use this platform, and I love it!

  • Sharon Garofalow

    Gosh I really need to get in to Google + more. This is GREAT info!! What a great platfrom!

  • Great explanation. I was trying to teach my parents but it’s great to have it nicely written.