Last Thursday Google began rolling out access to its "Hangouts On-Air" feature, which allows users to host a video chat with up to 10 people that is live streamed through YouTube. By coincidence, I had scheduled a Hangout as an extension of an #eventtable chat that day so I was able to try the new feature.
Though not everyone whom I invited got into the Hangout (the discussion was limited to Lindsay Fultz and myself), I was surprised how easy it was to broadcast from my Google+ page. I was also surprised that the Hangout was recorded and posted on my YouTube channel, and that YouTube provided tools for me to edit it, if I wanted.
Contrary to advice by Google (which I hadn't read at the time), I used my internal webcam and no earphones, yet the quality wasn't bad. To create more professional hangouts, check out these tips I came across later.
Regular Google Hangouts are capped at 10 people who may chat via video. Google Hangouts On-Air have the same 10-person video chat limit, but are available publicly to anyone who wishes to view them. So depending on the nature of your event, you may choose the public Hangouts On Air or the more private Google Hangouts.
I plan to use Google Hangouts On Air whenever a Twitter chat I moderate seems to warrant more discussion. But there are so many ways it can be used. Here are a few that could be beneficial to event professionals:
1. Following a Rebroadcast of a Session
You've just rebroadcast video of a session that was recorded at your event. Why not schedule a Hangout On-Air featuring the speaker? You can ask follow up questions and take questions via Twitter by viewers using a chosen hashtag.
2. Q&A for Remote Audience
To provide exclusive content to remote attendees at your hybrid event, plan a special Speaker Q&A Hangout On-Air just for them following a particularly interesting session. Again, use Twitter and your hashtag to take questions.
3. Holding a Session After the Event
Extend your conference or event even further by scheduling a Hangout On-Air a week or so after the event with attendees pre-chosen to report back what they learned at the event and share how it has helped them personally.
4. Gathering of Speakers for Discussion Pre-Conference
A Hangout On-Air could be a great way to give attendees a preview of the kind of scintillating presentations they will see at your event.
5. Peer Session Chosen During the Conference
Want to explore peer-to-peer formats without jumping in and doing an open-space conference? Create the opportunity at your event for on-site attendees to sign up for their favorite peer sessions. Then schedule these sessions for Hangouts. These can be On-Air or not, depending on what the group decides.
6. Product or Company PR Announcements
Does your client have a new product to introduce or announcement to make? Add a Google Hangout On-Air to the scheduled promotional events.
7. Building Community
A series of Google Hangouts On-Air featuring company executives, sales reps, organizers, speakers or fans of your event can help to build buzz and community in the lead up to it. Make sure to choose topics that relate to your upcoming sessions and include presenters scheduled to speak on those topics.
As an event professional, your Google Hangout will be a great way to display your attention to detail and showmanship. So make sure to follow guidelines for a quality production.
- Always use a wired connection.
- Ensure that everyone on video is using headphones.
- Ensure that everyone is well lit.
- Use a quality external web cam, if possible.
- Ensure that you have a large enough bandwidth. At minimum your bandwidth should be 230kbps outbound from the participant and 380-500kbps inbound to the participant.
The potential uses for Google Hangouts are limitless and now that this feature is being made available to all, I'm sure we will see quite a variety within a short amount of time.
To learn more about developing virtual communities for events, read Repurpose Event Content to Build Your Search Engine Ranking and Social Media Reciprocity: To Tweet or Not To Tweet.
(Photo by California Watch)