Simple guide to Google Hangouts

HangoutsYou might know that Google Plus is a social/business network, somewhat similar to Facebook.

Many people wonder why they should reconnect with all the same contacts all over again, just on another platform. They ask what content they should share that differs from updates they already issue elsewhere.

But Google Plus offers a unique – and free – way to hold and broadcast video conferences. For me, this is the main reason to use it.

Like many of Google’s interfaces, the process is not as straightforward as it could be. This article includes the key steps to follow…

Hangouts

A straightforward Google Hangout works like Skype. Using your webcam, you can have a video conversation with up to 10 people over the Internet at no charge. All you need is a Google Plus profile and some friends/contacts – you don’t need to issue Google Plus updates if you don’t want to.

Hangouts 1Once you are logged into Google Plus, there are several ways to initiate a Hangout:

  • Hover over the ‘home’ icon (top left) which opens the main navigation menu, and select the ‘hangouts’ option
    OR
  • Click the ‘quote mark’ icon (top right) then click the ‘start a video hangout’ option (bottom right)
    OR
  • Select any individual profile and click the green ‘say hi’ graphic (right side)

Screenshare

To share your screen (or window or desktop), click the grey task bar on the left and select ‘screenshare’, then follow the instructions.

Hangouts on Air

A Hangout on Air is broadcast live to your YouTube channel. Up to 10 people can contribute on video, while millions more can participate by text or just listen in – and it doesn’t cost you a penny. Afterwards, you can edit the video if you wish, and make the link available for anyone to view.  You need a Google Plus profile and a YouTube channel (because YouTube is owned by Google, it’s probably the same login).

To initiate a Hangout on Air:

  • Hover over the ‘home’ icon (top left) which opens the main navigation menu, and select the ‘hangouts’ option and click the blue ‘start a Hangout on Air ‘button (top left)
    OR
  • Click the ‘Hangout on Air’ link (top middle) then the blue ‘start a Hangout on Air ‘button (top right)
    OR
  • Google ‘Hangouts on Air’ and follow the links
  • Give your Hangout on Air a name, description and start time, and select your audience

The first time any participant does this, they will have to download and install some free software from Google. This can take about 10 minutes, so be sure to allow time. Don’t worry, it’s a one-off requirement.

Looking professional

Click the grey task bar on the left, and select ‘toolbox’.

Click the little head icon on the right.

Turn on ‘lower third’.

Upload an image (to fit a circle), type the name and slogan you wish to use, and select the colour to match your brand.

To see yourself as others see you instead of a mirror image, click the ‘rotate’ icon at the top of the right sidebar (it looks like an angled rectangle with a semicircle arrow).

Give this feature a name to save it. Next time, you will just have to tick beside the name once you have activated the toolbox.

Having fun

Click the grey task bar on the left, and select ‘effects’.

You can play with the options on the right to add backgrounds, hats, and other accessories if you wish.

Quirks

Note that it takes about a minute for your video to appear on YouTube.

The finished video will have the Hangout logo on it. There’s nothing you can do about this.

A link to the video will automatically appear on your Google Plus profile, so remember to delete this if you want.

As with all VOIP services, the connection can be flaky. But, remember, it’s free, so it’s hard to complain.

For more help, see Google’s FAQs.

One Response to Simple guide to Google Hangouts

  1. Jackie August 18, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    The best way to start a Hangout has changed. Now, you can go to hangouts.google.com and it will walk you through the steps.

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