Thursday, February 7, 2013

It's Showtime!

Google+ Hangout logo
You decided it's time to do a Hangout on Air (HOA) and created the Event page to publicize it. Now it's the day of the broadcast and you realize you aren't sure exactly what to do. No problem, I've got your back.

One Hour Before the HOA

This is the time to do all your final checks. Do you have everything you need for your presentation? Good.

Start a Hangout but don't invite anyone. This is just for you. First, check camera angles. Spend a couple of minutes really checking what's visible on screen. Now is the time to discover that the trash can is visible. Using Custom Overlays? Make sure all your Presets are ready in the Hangout Toolbox App. Satisfied with everything? Good. Close the Hangout. Now relax for a bit and put together the Circle of people you will invite to be on your panel.


The new Google+ changed a few things, including how to start an HOA. Here's a short video from +Ronnie Bincer that explains how to start an HOA.

Thirty Minutes Before the HOA

Now the real work begins. First, navigate to the Event page so you'll have that handy for editing. If you want to post the link to the stream on Twitter or Facebook, open the appropriate windows in your browser. Planning to stream to your blog? Open the appropriate editing window and create the Post.

Start a Hangout without inviting anyone.

Put the Title in the Name this hangout box; it's required for a Hangout on Air. This is the Title that will appear in YouTube, so don't include any hashtags. Do not invite anyone at this point, you'll do that a bit later.

Check Enable on Air. A popup will remind you that the HOA will be recorded on your YouTube channel. Click Okay, got it, then click Hang out.

Next you'll be embedding the YouTube video in the Event page. If you're going to stream to Twitter or your blog, or post to Facebook, you'll also take care of those links.

At the top right of the Hangout window there's a bright red Start Broadcast button. Just to the left of that is an Embed link. Click Embed.

When you first click Embed the code to embed your video in an iFrame is highlighted. If you will be embedding the HOA in a blog post for the live stream, copy the code, go to your blog post editing window, paste the HTML code, then do whatever else you need to so that the post is published. Don't mess around because you've still got some work to do.

Click the URL link just to the left of the highlighted code and copy the highlighted URL. This is the link to the YouTube live stream. You can Tweet this link if you wish, or post it on your Facebook page. You should let people know that you'll be going live at the top or bottom of the hour, or something similar, so they won't be surprised to get snow.

Go to the Event page, edit, click the blue pencil at the end of the Title to edit the event, click Event options, select Advanced Options, then Show additional fields. Paste the URL into the YouTube URL field. Save and you're done.

+Ronnie Bincer (in a comment below) suggests pasting the YouTube URL into the Description or as a Comment so that mobile users can view the HOA. Excellent suggestion. I'd put it into the Description because that won't scroll out of sight like the Comment might.

Now it's time to invite people to your Hangout. Click the Invite People button and add the circle you created for this demo.

While you're waiting for panelists to join, click your thumbnail in the Hangout window so that it has a blue box around it. That will keep you in the large window and on screen until you select a different thumbnail. It's very important to do this because if you forget, any sound anyone makes causes them to show in the main window.

Spend a few minutes chatting with your panelists. If you want all questions held until the end, let them know. Ask one of them to watch the comment stream on the Event page if the Hangout Toolbox Comment Tracker isn't working. Ditto the YouTube comment stream on your channel. Using a special hashtag so that Twitter viewers can comment? The Comment Tracker should be able to pick that up, but just in case, maybe another panelist will volunteer.

Time to start the show? Locate the bright red Start Broadcast button and click it. You'll get a ten second countdown, a beep while the stream is posted, and 2 seconds later, another beep to tell you you're On Air. When you hear that first beep, smile at the camera. Take a breath, and when you hear the second beep, introduce yourself. On to the demo!

You won't have time to notice, but the grey Off Air at the top left is now a red On Air, and the Start Broadcast button is now an End Broadcast button. There's even a count of how many are watching the stream, but believe me, you'll be too busy to care.

Have fun! Smile. And remember to look into the camera. Relax, you'll do fine.