A Practical Guide to Google+ Hangouts On Air: Part 201-Nov-2013
Starting the hangout
In Part 1 of this blog post we looked at how to set up a Google+ Hangout, and a few things to consider in preparation for the session. This week we’ll be looking at how to run the session itself from start to finish.
Once you’ve set up your Google+ Hangout and you’re ready to start, follow this path from your Google+ page: Home > Hangouts on air > Start hangout on air.
Now you’re in! You’ll want to make sure that your audio and video is setup correctly, so after turning off all other programs that might be slowing down your machine, navigate to the cog icon marked ‘settings’ in the top right-hand corner and check that the correct devices have been selected.
Only start to think about inviting other participants when you’re happy that you, and anyone else you’re sharing hosting duties with, are comfortable and settled in. The ‘invite people’ button on the left-hand menu of your video screen lets you tell people that the hangout is about to start. Do be aware however, that email notifications can get lost in inboxes. This is where your event page comes in handy as it allows you to message the session’s URL to the attendees. If the session is only intended for a select band of people to attend then simply email this link to them directly.
Remember, there can only be 10 people within the discussion room, so it’s very much a case of ‘first-come-first-serve’ if you’re intending to create a public hangout. The others who don’t make it in time will have to make do with watching the session from the live stream provided on your YouTube channel. But this doesn’t necessarily stop them from being able to contribute!
Running the session
By now, participants should be starting to arrive in your room. As they do, you have the option to mute and turn their video off should you so wish. This is particularly useful if you want to kick things off with a short intro speech and you’d like there to be no distractions from the main speaker during that time.To do so, just hover over each of the participants’ streams at the bottom of the screen and click on the mini-camera icon until it appears with a line through it. Likewise, you can do the same with their audio feed too. When you’re ready to have the rest of the room back again then you can simply go through and unclick their camera icons. But they will still have to unmute themselves, so be sure to communicate this with everybody before people start wondering why nobody can hear them!
Now, the important bit!
Once you’re happy you want the outside world to see what’s going on, click the red ‘Start Broadcast’ button in the top right-hand corner to start streaming your hangout on your Google+ page and from your YouTube channel.
There’ll be a short delay after you press ‘Start Broadcast’ and you’ll be notified when the hangout has become publicly viewable. However, the world’s only going to be able to tune in if they know where to find you, so your next job is to blitz social media with links to your stream.
You can fetch the embed code for the video in the upper right-hand corner of the window – next to where it says ‘embed.’ Clicking this button will also reveal a YouTube URL which is what you want to post on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about your hangout. The stream will be viewable on your Google+ page too, with users able to leave their comments and questions underneath. Helpfully, the hangout room will also tell you how many people are watching the live stream.
A quick time-saving tip: the feed on live stream doesn’t start until you’ve hit the broadcast button, so it’s safe to share the YouTube link even before you’re finally ready to roll. Viewers will see a message informing them that the broadcast will start shortly, and won’t be able to watch any frantic last-minute preparations going on inside the hangout room!
When everything is underway, you become the director of the show and can direct which participant the camera focuses on as the conversation progresses. If you click on a person’s pane and make them the focus (so that they’re surrounded by a blue frame), the viewers will see them in the large screen. Alternatively, you can choose to leave Google to automatically switch between participants by leaving all the panes unselected.
Remember to encourage participants to mute their microphones when they’re not speaking to keep background noise during the session to a minimum. The text chat box, which isn’t recorded, is a great place to offer instructions should there be any confusion.
Finally, after the event’s finished, the video will land in your YouTube channel where the public can view the session and again and you can share with your followers on social media.
Happy hanging out!
Read more in the series: