This post is part of a series of Masterclass tutorials about how to use Google+ as a blogger. For more installments, go the Masterclass main page, where you can also grab the badge to encourage people to follow you on G+.
What is a hangout?
Google+ provides live video conferences. This is called a “hangout” and up to 10 people can participate. There are no charges like Skype and it’s great for catching up with friends and family, conducting a group online video conference or even watching YouTube together. You can have hangouts with your circles or specific people, or you can have public hangouts where anyone can join.
Hangouts on air
Google+ has now enabled Hangouts On Air – live hangouts broadcasting for all its users. Initially this functionality was only available to a limited number of professional broadcasters. You can broadcast live video publicly from a Google+ stream, a YouTube channel or embed it on a website. Here are 5 Google Hangouts features you’ll love. Hangouts On Air allows you to see how many viewers are watching and the show gets automatically recorded. Once you finished live streaming, the recording is uploaded to your YouTube channel, as well as on Google+ to act as an additional content repository.
There’s a suite of applications that you can use in hangouts like screen sharing, Google Docs integration, Notes and Sketchpad, Named Hangouts, and YouTube integration. Here’s a short video about how to use these features, also embedded here.
There’s also chat functionality on Google+ that can be really useful especially in hangouts if people want to talk to one another without disturbing the person speaking.
What you need for a great hangout
All you need is a computer with a webcamera and microphone. Here’s a excellent list from Kevin Kelly, former executive editor of Wired of things to do in order to have a great hangout.
Adding to Kevin’s list, we would also say that it’s best to request people who are not speaking on the hangout to mute their systems so as to reduce background noise and interference.
How to start a hangout
So go ahead and try one! To start a hangout, go to your Stream and click on “Start a hangout” in the right-hand sidebar. Then invite who’d you’d like to hangout with.
Finding other hangouts
You can also join public hangouts, this website has a list of live hangouts that are available for you to join in with.
Troubleshooting on a hangout
For a step-by-step guide and tips about joining or setting up a Google+ Hangout then please see this document. If you are still having issues with the hangout functionality there is some further help on the Google+ Troubleshooting page
Masterclass 4 to-dos
- Host a hangout
- Join a BritMums hangout
- Watch a live hangout on air