The Dallas-Fort Worth VMUG recently started using Google Hangouts to do smaller, impromptu meetings in the evenings. It makes it a lot easier to get good speakers after-hours, and the format of an encrypted video conference chatroom makes it much easier for people to ask questions, share screens and really get conversations flowing. Best of all, it can done from any modern smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Here is a quick how-to on getting started with Hangouts.
Google Hangouts are quick and easy to use. There are a few requirements. First, you need a Google account and you must enable Google+. If you’ve been resisting Google+ because you don’t want more social media in your life, try it anyways. Google+ is perfect for focused special-interest communities like VMUGs. You will not see pictures of kittens on Google+. Join the Dallas-Fort Worth VMUG community to see examples.
A small plug-in needs to be installed as well. The perma-link to it is http://www.google.com/chat/video. Users will be prompted for the plug-in, and it takes a few seconds to install. In addition, it is much easier to setup a Google+ community to send the invites out, though individual users can be invited as well.
Note: You always enter a Google Hangout muted! This causes all sorts of shenanigans, even for a bunch of VMware smart guys.
Setting up a Hangout
You have two options when setting up a Google Hangout. If your group is less than 10 people a normal hangout will work fine and the setup is trivial. If you have more then 10 you will need to broadcast the hangout using Hangouts On Air.
Hangouts On Air
If you are doing a Hangout on Air you only want to invite speakers, if there will be greater than 10 people. You simply send out the link in the address bar to people who will be listening in, and there is an “Embed” link at the top of the page to embed the broadcast on your blog- the community site will get it automatically. You will also need to link your Google+ account to a YouTube account. Once setup is complete your broadcast will be recorded to review later or to link. Once you complete your hangout it will save and be ready for you to share.
Make sure to experiment with the Google Hangout widgets. Q&A is a must-have, as is Cameraman and Google Effects (Google Effects is half the fun!).
Here is the hangout from last night with @vtexan @virtualchappy and me, @bchristian21
A big hat tip to John McConnell at UT Dallas and a VMUG co-leader for talking me into trying this! I was very against more social media at first.