Google Hangouts is a video conferencing system that let’s you and up to nine other people have a video meeting. This is great for people who work remotely. It’s easy to do. No need to mess around with firewall or VPS settings. Most likely, you already have everything you need to get started. You need a browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.), an internet connection, and a web cam and microphone (some computers come with it built-in), and a google account. That’s it. Nothing more. Headphones could be a nice addition, but not really necessary.
Video conferencing is super for remote workers since you have the chance to get some face-time with your fellow co-workers and employees. We think it’s better than the old-fashioned conference call, where the sound can be extremely muffled and you’re never sure of who said what. With Google Hangouts, the person talking takes center stage. That way you can know who is talking and what they’re saying.
So, let’s get started. Simply, log into Google. Click the Plus sign next to your name which will take you to Google+. Then, click on Start A Hangout on the right hand side. This will then open up a Google Hangout screen.
The first thing we recommend doing is checking your microphone and camera to make sure everything is working well. At the top right, click on Settings. This will open up a screen where you can do a test. You’ll know if your microphone is working if you see green bars going up when you talk. And the last thing to do is to play the test sound. If you hear it, all is well. This means you’ll be able to hear everyone talking in the Hangout. Click Save Settings and you’re done.
Now it’s time to invite people into your Hangout. Back at the Start A Hangout screen, you can choose who you’d like to invite. Then be sure to name your Hangout. Then when you’re ready click Hang Out.
Now all you need to do is what for your people to accept the invitation. Once they do, they will appear live on your screen.
During the Google Hangout there are some special things you can do:
- Mute the microphone. You can mute your microphone by clicking the icon at the top right. Once you do that, no one will be able to hear what you say. This comes in handy. What some people do, if they are in a noisy room, is keep their microphone muted until they have something to say.
- Turn off your camera. This will bring up your Google+ icon. This is useful for when you want to minimize the browser and do something else like bring up a file, or check your email, or do something that you don’t want anyone else see you do.
- Invite more people. You can always invite more people to the Google Hangout, at any time. Simply click Invite People over in the left hand column.
- Chat. You can also chat with any of the members during the hangout. Click chat and then type in your message on the right hand column. Sometimes it’s useful to just type out a message to someone rather than talking.
- Screenshare. You can share what is on your screen while the video camera is running. Excellent option to have when you want to show a design or Word document, etc. which allows you to work collaboratively while you’re having your meeting. Simply check screenshare and choose the document or file you would like to show. When done, simply close the window and uncheck screenshare in the left column.
- Google Effects. Not so useful for a meeting and really meant to add some fun. You can add sounds, goofy headwear, eyewear, etc. Click on it again and it’ll go away.
- Hangout Toolbox. Very useful for embedding videos right into your hangout, muting the entire meeting, adding goofy icons like with Google Effects, and a ton of other useful things. You’ll need to explore.
- Add Apps. You can also click on View More Apps and browse through the featured and recent library of apps that you may find useful for your meeting. If you find one, simply click Add To This Hangout. Then, you’re all set.
When you’re all done with your meeting, have said everything that you wanted to say and want to exit, just click on the telephone icon at the top right. This will exit you from the hangout. It will take you back to your Google+ site.
So, that’s it in a nutshell. Google Hangouts is a great way for your business to have a meeting and/or work collaboratively on a project while getting some good face-time if you’re working remotely, which is a nice thing.