Google Hangouts is a complete video conferencing tool open to all subscribers of the Google + social network, which emphasize on the organization of online virtual meetings and collaborative work. It also gives you the ability to broadcast a public video conference on Youtube (communicate about events, create turtorials...etc). How to organize a Hangout and take advantage of all its features?
Hangouts: a video-conferencing service for web and mobile platforms
Google Hangouts is a free video conferencing service, accessible from:
Google Hangouts mobile applications (Android, iOS).
The Hangouts extension for the Google Chrome browser.
Prerequisites for using Google Hangouts
The use of Google Hangouts requires a webcam, speakers (or headphones), Internet connection (broadband) and of course a Google account.
Key features of Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts includes several tools that meet the communication needs of individuals and professional users:
Free audio or video conferencing with up to 10 participants.
The opportunity to join a conference or to be contacted by telephone, via the Google Voice VoIP service (paid service).
Send instant messages to other participants.
Screen sharing and access to Google Docs: text, spreadsheet and presentation
Live broadcast of video conferencing on YouTube.
How to start or join a Hangout from your PC?
You can start a Hangout:
From Gmail: In the left column, you will find a feature to start video calls (a plugin is installed on first use). From there simply invite your contacts to join the video conference (invitation by e -mail, Google Plus circle, names).
To facilitate the organization of a Hangout : add contacts to a Google + circle.
Notify your contacts about the time of the hangout before sending the invitations.
If necessary, create a web page dedicated to the event ( integrated feature).
During the Hangout :
Use the virtual console available to the right of the screen to moderate the debates in real-time: it allows to control the audio or video stream of each participant or adjust the volume of a speaker .
Some tips for the participants
Check your equipment before the video-conference (microphone, speaker or headphone)
Choose the right environment (optimal lighting, no background noise.etc).
How to enrich your hangout?: The interactive tools
Control the video stream and chat module
All participants connected to a Hangout (up to 10) are displayed in the form of video thumbnails, in a banner at the bottom of the window:
Note that: the video stream of the active participant (speaker) is displayed in the middle of the window.
During a video-conference:
The organizer must animate the Hangout and manage how the conference will unfold (who will speak first,..etc).
Once their speech is done, participants must cut off their microphone to reduce noise interferences (The mute option is located top right).
Collaborative and sharing tools integrated to Hangouts
The screen sharing module as the name suggest allows you to share the screen of your computer with other participants (web browser, Office documents) .
The YouTube module allows each user to share a YouTube video for simultaneous viewing.
The Picture module is used to share screen captures during the hangout.
The "Google Effects" module is used to add visual elements to your streamed video : backgrounds, annotations..etc
Click on "View More Applications" to discover the other module
Broadcasting your videoconference live on Youtube (Hangouts on Air)
The "Hangouts On Air" service allows you to broadcast a live Hangout video-conference via a verified YouTube account.
The broadcast is public and therefore accessible to a very large audience.