Tips for a Smooth & Seamless Google Hangout On Air

One thing I have plenty of community experience with is webinars. I gave a quick overview in a post last month, but wanted to a drill down on Google Hangouts On Air, which I used at my previous job for the last year or so that we conducted webinars. For those looking for a free service with easy ways to share archived footage, Hangouts On Air is a good option, once you learn the ins and outs of its various features.

Accessing Hangouts On Air

Google launched a redesign to its nebulous Google+ platform last fall, in turn hiding the Google Hangouts On Air (GHOA) option from the left-hand menu. Previously, GHOA had their own event pages, webinar trailers, and opportunities for people within the Google+ community to comment directly on an event.

From my experience with using the ~*~new~*~ Google+, the Hangouts navigation has completely disappeared. My first instinct was to perpetually revert back to the old design, where the Hangouts navigation still lives, but it’s a losing battle—eventually I will have to figure out how to schedule a Hangout On Air without the help of its Google+ navigation integration. So why not now, right?

Thus begins my journey. In addition to helping you set up a Google Hangout On Air outside of Google+, this post includes tutorials on inviting others, installing Hangout extensions, personalizing your broadcast experience, and embedding your Hangout on external pages.

For the record, to access Google Hangouts On Air without having to navigate through Google+, simply go to:

Straightforward enough, right?

Scheduling a Hangout On Air

From there, you will need to validate your YouTube account if you haven’t already done so, add a title, description, and send an invite to anyone who you’d like to join you for the GHOA.

If you aren’t sure who will be participating with you in the Hangout when you set it up—maybe you’re scouting for panelists!—you can always access the GHOA permalink and send it to them later. Here’s how:

  1. Click the first icon on the top menu
  2. Copy the lengthy link to your keyboard
  3. Paste in an email, direct message, calendar invite, etc.


(Image looking a little pixelated? Click it to view the full size.)

Install Hangout Toolbox

Whether you’re running the Hangout solo, or bringing on panelists for a discussion (GHOA permits 10 live participants), the Hangouts Toolbox extension is a nice way to personalize and better control your Hangouts. Before we jump into specifics, you must first install the Hangouts Toolbox app.

From within an (off-air) GHOA:

  1. Hover over the left menu and click the three horizontal dots
  2. Select + Add apps
  3. Scroll to Hangout Toolbox and click “+Install Hangout extension”
  4. Click “Allow” to grant permissions to the app
  5. Voilà—the extension opens on the right side of the GHOA

Here’s a visual:


Setting Up a Lower Third

A Lower Third is a small panel that displays in the—you guessed it—lower third of your camera display. You know the banner that displays under a TV news reporter with their name and location? It’s the same thing, but just for you in Hangouts.

With a Lower Third, you can choose a photo/logo, add a personalized title and tagline, and change the color of the banner. The Lower Third feature is available within the Hangouts Toolbox app. Here’s how to set it up:


As you tweak the text, image, and colors, you’ll see a live preview in your Hangout.

If you participate in GHOA frequently, you may find it necessary to have multiple Lower Thirds for different reasons. If you want to change your photo, banner color, name, or sub-text (maybe a Twitter handle in place of a blog name, or your location in place of your job title), it’s easy to add multiple preset Lower Third designs. Additionally, if your Lower Third is mirrored when you first switch it on, you can invert the camera by clicking the rotating icon next to the display toggle. Here’s where you can do both:


Sharing with the World

By default, your Google Hangout On Air will broadcast live on your YouTube channel, and an archived recording will be uploaded automatically after the Hangout goes off air. This is an easy way to freely give access to anyone who wants to watch.

If you’re using GHOA for content marketing, however, you may want to “confine” the stream by embedding it on your company’s blog, or on a landing page. Not only is this easier for viewers (instead of registering on one page, and then navigating to a YouTube account, their experience remains in one place), but you can share additional resources or CTAs underneath an embedded stream.

It’s easy to do—simply use the “Links,” err, link, to access the embed code. Then, add it to your event or landing page.


Once your Hangout On Air broadcast date arrives, simply click the bright green “Start broadcast” button to go live. A pop-up will appear letting you know you’re streaming live (to be honest, it’s a little anticlimactic), and you can get to it.

Want more webinar best practices? Click here to check out my post on quick and dirty webinar tips and tricks.

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