Google Hangouts is a useful, easy to use and free platform for video meetings between up to 10 people. You can also use Google Hangouts to deliver online training.
This guide describes how you can:
- Set up, test and configure Google Hangouts
- Present your slides
- Send delegates course handouts
- Show delegates videos
Spotted an error or have a suggestion?
What is Google Hangouts?
You can start or join a Hangout using:
- Your Web browser on your computer
- The Hangouts app on your Android, iPad or iPhone device
Training can be interactive and delegates can ask questions through their microphones. The speaker’s image is always enlarged so that there is no confusion over who is speaking at any moment in time.
Types of Hangout
There are two types of Hangout: Hangout Parties and Hangouts on Air. We recommend you use Hangout Parties for training courses.
About Hangouts Parties
Hangouts Parties let you have face-to-face video calls with up to nine other people. Only the people within the Hangout Party can watch or listen to the conversation.
Hangouts on Air
With Hangouts On Air, you can share and record your discussions on YouTube – either live or as a recording. Everyone can watch your Hangout. Note: you’re still limited to 10 people contributing by video.
Hangouts On Air lets you:
- You invite circles or individual people to join you in a Hangout On Air, then you broadcast it to the world.
- A live player of your broadcast is posted to your Google+ Home page and YouTube channel.
- Edit and share the recorded broadcast:
- Your Hangout On Air is recorded as a public video.
- It is available on your Home page once the broadcast has ended.
- You can also edit the recording when the broadcast is over.
- If you edit your video, your post (including the video URL) is automatically updated to show the edited version.
Starting a broadcast
When you click Start broadcast, the broadcast starts. You do this from the Hangout On Air window. You can see the notification at the top of the window. It will say “on air” or “off air”.
Before the course starts: How to set up, test and configure Hangouts
You don’t want to lose time at the start of the course fixing any problems. Organise a Hangout sometime before the course itself, so you can check everyone’s system has configured it correctly. This section explains how to do this.
Time to complete this task
It takes most people about 4-5 minutes to complete this task.
Everyone must log into Google+
To get access to all Hangouts’ features everyone must login using Google+. Everyone needs a full Google+ account.
Hangouts system requirements
See: Hangouts system requirements on the Google Help Centre page for information on:
- Supported browsers and operating systems
- Requirements and specifications
How much bandwidth you need
The bandwidth used by Hangouts is adaptive. It varies to provide the best experience for an individual delegate’s network.
You can adjust and set the bandwidth used by Google Hangouts manually. See bandwidth settings page in the Google Help Centre for detailed instructions.
For group video connectivity, Google suggests:
|Minimum bandwidth required||Ideal bandwidth|
|Outbound from the participant||256 kbps||1 mbps|
|Inbound to the participant with 5 participants||512 kbps||2mbps|
|Inbound to the participant with 10 participants||512 kbps||3mbps|
Setting up the microphone and webcam
To change the audio and video call settings:
- Click the gear icon at the top right of the video call window.
For the best video quality, make sure everyone is well lit from a light source that’s coming from behind the camera. Also, make sure you have the latest drivers for your webcam.
You can improve the quality of the audio by using headphones that have a built-in microphone. If you have more than one microphone connected to your computer (for example, the built-in microphone and a headset’s microphone), make sure you have selected the correct one you want to use.
The Settings page helps confirm that your computer is set up and ready to use. If you have poor video or sound quality on your video call, try changing your bandwidth setting.
See: Video call settings
Starting a Hangouts party
We recommend you add the delegates’ names to a group in Google+ Circles before you start the Hangouts party. You can also check you can connect with them on Google+.
How you start a Hangouts Party:
- Sign in to Google+.
- Click the Hangout button at the bottom of your share box. You can also hover over Hangout Party on the bottom right of your Hangouts list and select Start a party.
You’ll see a share box to create your Hangout Party, as well as a list of other parties shared with you.
- You need to give your Hangout a name. Type something into that box. This shows in the post shared with the people you’ll be inviting to the Hangout.
- Add the people or specific circles you want to join your Hangouts Party.
- Click Share to post an invitation to your delegates and start the Party.
- You can directly add people to your party from within the video call.
- Click the add people button at the top left of the video call window.
- Enter their names, and click Add people.
When you directly add people to your party, they are notified via Hangouts.
Signing in and out of Hangouts
More information: Signing into or out of Hangouts
Installing the Hangout apps
Your apps are displayed on the left side of your screen.
We recommend you install these apps before the course begins:
- Google Drive
To install and open the apps:
- Click the Google Drive and YouTube buttons on the left side of your screen.
If these apps are not visible:
- Click … View more apps.
- Add apps for Google Drive or YouTube.
More information: Add or remove an app
Sharing documents and handouts using Google Drive App
Once you’ve added the Google Drive app to your Hangout video call, you can:
- Browse and search for an existing Google Document, or select Upload to add a file that’s stored on your computer.
- Share that document with the participants.
If you upload a Google Document that hasn’t been shared with everyone in the video call, you are prompted to share it with the other participants so that they can see and edit it.
Once a document has been added to the video call, you can include additional documents and files.
- Click the red Add button on the left side of the page.
More information: Google Drive App
Sharing videos using the YouTube app in Hangouts
To watch YouTube videos with others in a video call:
- Open the YouTube app.
Important – everyone in the video call needs to have installed the app.
- Click on the blue Add videos to playlist button to find videos.
To find videos, you can either, search for a specific video, or copy and paste the URL of a specific YouTube video.
More information: YouTube App
The first video added to the playlist starts playing automatically. The controls below the player allow you to pause, play or skip to the next or previous video. Anyone in the video call can play, pause, or change a video but doing so affects what everyone sees.
To reduce any background noise, everyone is muted by default when a video is playing.
To talk to others while a video is playing
To talk to others:
- Press the Push to talk button underneath the video.
- Hold until you are finished talking.
Viewing the videos in a darkened setting
If you’d like to watch your videos in a darkened, cinema-like setting, you can use a browser extension such as Turn off the lights.
What if the video I want to share is not on YouTube?
If the video you want to show is not on YouTube, you can run the video from your computer and share your screen with others in a video call. The video and audio quality is likely to be poor, unfortunately. Alternatively, you can send delegates a link to the video, so they can watch it on their computer’s browser.
Presenting your slides – Share your screen with others in Google Hangouts
You can use the Screenshare feature in Hangouts to show your slides to delegates. You can give participants the ability to see what’s on your computer screen.
To share your screen:
- Click Screenshare on the left side of your screen.
- In the window that pops up, choose your desktop or choose the window you want to present. If you have multiple windows open, you are asked to choose one to share. Select that window containing your slides, click share.
- Click Share Selected Window.
You can stop sharing your screen at any time by clicking Screenshare again.
Seeing your slides and the delegates’ faces at the same time
Ideally, you want to be able to see your slides and see the delegates’ faces at the same time. To do this, you need to display the slides in a resizable window on your screen, so that they only take up part of the screen.
If you’re using Windows – Displaying PowerPoint slides in a resizable window
You need to change the slideshow settings in PowerPoint to display your PowerPoint slides in a resizable window:
- From the ribbon (or menu bar in earlier versions) select Slide Show on the ribbon bar.
- Select Set Up Slide Show.
- In the Set Up Show window, select Browsed by an individual (window).
- Select OK to close the dialog.
When you select the Slide Show (or Presentation) view, your slideshow displays in a resizable window. It does not display in full screen mode.
If you’re using a Mac – Displaying Keynote slides in a resizable window
In Apple Keynote:
- Click View in the toolbar and choose View > Slide Only.
- Press the up and down arrows on the keyboard to move between slides.
More information: Share your screen with others in a video call