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Getting the hang of Hangouts

Earlier this year I shared a post raising awareness of the 10 Tool Challenge

Social learning guru Jane Hart challenged us all to find 10 new tools in 2013 and use them in some capacity to help us become more productive, more organised, to help you deliver training or enhance communication or your connections in some way. Ultimately discovering a new tool set that can support and help you become a more effective professional. When you've experimented and played and used the tool then you must blog about it and share your findings for others to benefit from it. Great idea, you can find the original post here. I liked the idea and the curious gene means I'll be adding a blog each month sharing my findings on a new tool I've used. There is still plenty of time for you to get involved.

Here the first blog and it's a reflection on my recent experience hosting a Google Hangout on Air. Google Hangouts have been around for a little while now and the premise is simple although was quite buggy when I first tried it. It allows up to 9 other people to video chat (think skype) at the same time but also allows instant chat, watching a YouTube vid together, screen sharing, special effects (add a hat or moustache) and it's FREE! Skype charges for screen sharing in their premium package.

Yes I'll say it again FREE TO EVERYONE.....there have been some really novel and exciting ways that Google Hangouts have been used other than just your standard video chat:

4 creative uses of using Google Hangouts

I've also seen photographers taking their mobiles out on shoots to do Hangouts with people who are bed ridden with illness to give them a unique view of the out doors that they can no longer get by themselves. Cool!

Google really have got it right with Hangouts and now they've sorted out the bugs and improved the experiences we'll see more and more businesses, groups and communities use hangouts to connect, share and learn. A bit like us.

The most recent development of Google Hangouts is the 'On Air' option. You can now broadcast your Hangouts live via any web site and a linked YouTube channel and it is recorded for you to watch and share later. This means that anyone can broadcast to a potential audience of millions. DPG has a Google Plus presence and as soon as I was aware of what they were and how they could be used I looked out for an opportunity to give it a go and linked the DPG YouTube channel and started thinking about topics. It didn't take me long to find some interested parties and the topic was set on using social tools to support professional development. I scheduled the event and sent out some invites and also posted in the community events area in this community to see if there was any interest. The plan was to also stream it live in the Pick of the Day area (which we did).

So on the 27th February at 8.30 our first Google Hangout on Air was broadcast and went live on the YouTube channel and via the community. You can watch the recording here. Here are some reflections from the experience:

  • Google haven't made it the easiest to schedule and invite people - it helps to have a Google Plus account and be in the organisers circles (more to come on Google Plus in the next blog)
  • Try and use a decent headset (headset is a must to keep out background noise)
  • If you have a web cam use it rather than the integrated laptop camera's as they are poorer quality
  • Approach the session like any online session and think about your surroundings (nice background pictures)
  • Minimise any chance of being interrupted or background activity / noise (kids, partners, phones)
  • Be prompt as it's first come first served as you can have only 9+ you in the Hangout. If others are tuning in they can join if someone drops out or leaves
  • Remember the events are being streamed live so what you see / hear is what you get
  • Turn off mobile phones as we found out they can provide interference
  • If you are hosting then get prepared, send out some thoughts before hand to get people thinking
  • If you need to facilitate then try to bring people in to keep conversation going but don't dominate the conversation as no-one wants to hear from just one person
  • Be yourself and throw yourself in to a new experience

If you watch the first video you'll see that I've learned from experience with the above points but that's the point isn't it? We try new things to learn and being curious is about experimentation and getting things wrong and learning from them. I love the idea of using Hangouts to bring people together to talk and share about things of interest on L&D, HR and Leadership topics and some of these will have direct links to CIPD qualifications and professional development.

The next one is already scheduled and will be added in the community events area shortly. The title is:

To Blog or Not to Blog and yes you've guessed it will be on the subject of blogging. If it's something you're interesting in learning more about then why not get involved live or watch the streamed event on the 28th March 8.30.

Go on be curious, be brave and do something different. Any thoughts, comments or questions are most welcome


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