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 Plus.
- 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).
- From Google +: Read Google Plus - How to schedule an Hangout?
Organizing the Hangout: The best practices
Before the Hangout :
- 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.