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Google + Hangouts Best Practices

posted Mar 7, 2013, 10:42 AM by Kay Schmalen

Hangouts Logo

AEA 267 staff are quickly discovering the enormous benefits of using Google+ Hangouts to communicate with each other, either for those short 30-60 minute conversations to those 2-3 hour meetings.  For those of you not familiar with "Hanging Out" yet, here's a little run down of Google Hangouts.

Hangouts are a video conferencing tool that is part of Google+. Some features that make it an indispensable tool include:

  • With Google Hangouts you can "Hangout" with up to 9 other people and chat face-to-face.
  • You can host a virtual meeting.  Google Hangouts allow you to share screens and collaborate on Google Docs, right within the Hangout.
  • Google Hangouts can be recorded and archived for distribution to others with Hangouts on Air.

As with any tool, there are some things to keep in mind regarding best practices:

  1. Honor other's time and be punctual to the meeting.  If you haven't been on a Hangout before, contact a colleague or one of the Google Trainers to test the technology out ahead of time.  Our AEA 267 Website has some tutorials to help you set up your Google+ account and how to initiate or participate in a Google Hangout.  If you are the facilitator of the meeting, start the meeting on time and end on time.  
  2. Don't make distracting noise.  Avoid typing on your keyboard and turn off or quit applications (e.g email) that may make notification sounds. Also, silence cell phones and don't text.
  3.  If wearing jewelry, be cognizant of the sounds that your jewelry makes .   When your jewelry hits your desk, the mic or your computer, the noise can be distracting and louder than what you realize on the other end.
  4. Mute your mic and/or camera if needed.  If you do need to take a phone call or someone comes to speak to you while on the Hangout, MUTE your mic and/or your camera.  Just because you aren't talking with the group, they can still hear and see everything that you say or do.
    Mute Mic
    Mute Mic
  5. Eliminate background noise. If you are in a location with a lot of background noise, go to a room that is quieter.
  6. Maintain eye contact by looking into the camera.  Note what your picture looks like and adjust it so that everyone can see your face.  Avoid the "Wilson Effect".
    Wilson Effect
    Wilson Effect
  7. Feedback can be the death of a meeting. The purpose of a video conference is to connect with people at-a-distance.  If you happen to be in the same place or room with someone that is also in the same Hangout, note that your computer's mic will pick up everything, including the sound coming from another's computer.  This will create feedback that can be annoying to others in the group.  Some options to consider when sharing the same physical location:
  • Option 1: Use one computer with a projector and speakers.  Make sure that everyone sits close enough to the computer so that the computer's mic can pick up everyone speaking.
  • Option 2: Each person uses their own computer, but uses headphones with a mic.  Make sure that the sound is coming through the headphones and the mic is working.  People in the room may have to spread out so that the mics don't pick up other's voices easily.