Google+ Hangouts is a way to interact with others online through video chat and advanced messaging; combining the typical messaging system with great features like voice, video, live broadcasts and web conferencing. A Google hangout party lets you connect through video and text as well as share YouTube videos and collaborate on documents.
To get started, you will need a camera and a microphone, a topic you want to share and a group of people to share it with.
Getting Started Options
There are several ways to start or join a hangout.
First Option: Start from your Google+ profile
You first need to download the Google plugin.
Sign in to your Google+ account. You can sign up for a free account at Google.com
On your profile page, the Hangouts tab is on the top right of the page. Click the little green single speech mark to open a floating menu with the “+ New Hangout” field.
Fill in the information to get a list of your contacts and the people in your Google+ circles. Click on those you want to invite to your hangout. Next you’re given the option to start the hangout in text or video.
You then start typing in the box to send a message so the invitees know you have the hangout screen open.
Tip: You can turn a text hangout into a video hangout at any time. Just click on the video camera.
Second Option: Start a hangout from someone’s profile
On the person’s profile you can start a Google+ hangout by clicking on the “Say Hi to…” green box. This opens the hangout box on the right.
Third Option: Anywhere the green speech mark is
Click the green speech marks that are found anywhere on the site.
This opens the text section of hangouts. Enter the information in the box for the “+new hangout” where it says “name, email, number or circle.” Choose who you want to invite.
Select the video icon for a video chat or the paper icon for text hangout. The icon turns green when you select it. Also a box opens calling the people you’ve selected for your hangout.
Fourth Option: From your Gmail account
In your Gmail account, you can click your photo icon in the chat list to open Hangouts.
Fifth Option: Start a party from a chat
During the chat part of a hangout, you can start a party or video call by clicking on the camera at the bottom of the hangout section.
Sixth Option: Join an existing video
When an existing video is already in progress, you can click the green camera icon to join the call already in progress.
Describe the gathering and invite people
Once the hangout is ready to start, you are prompted to enter a description of the event and add people to your invite list. Your description is what is sent to those you invite.
You can restrict the call to users 18 and over.
In a text chat hangout, you are allowed up to 100 people. On a video hangout the limit is 10 people. Corporate accounts can have up to 15 people.
The dropdown on your Hangouts page shows people in your circles. You can click a certain group or all of them. To block some of them, click the customize button.
To add specific people, simply type in their name or email address and then click to send an email to invite them to your hangout.
In your Google home page you can click on a person’s face to invite them to your hangout – once you are in your hangout.
Here are three ways to find people to join your Hangout:
1) Scroll through your Hangouts list.
2) Search Google+ circles using the search box at the top of your Hangouts list.
3) Click on the +button at the top of the Hangouts list to type in a name, email address or a phone number.
Once you find people, click the check mark box next to a name to add them to the invite list.
When you are ready, click the text message or video call button to begin your Hangout.
You can begin chatting immediately as long as your webcam is configured correctly. The bottom of the Hangout window shows your attendees. The right side has the text chat area. On the left is the options pane.
When you are finished with the Hangout, simply click the Exit button in the top-right corner to close out the meeting. This icon looks like a phone that is being hung-up.
You can have a fixed, non-changing URL for your Hangout which allows for easy access and the ability to create your hangout using Google Calendar. Simply click on the link that says “add video call” in the calendar. Save your choices and the URL embedded will be a permalink. Copy and paste it into your calendar appointment for easy access to send to others you want to invite who might not be on Google Plus.
The green speech mark at the upper left of your Google Plus screen brings your hangout box back if it disappears.
Be friendly and courteous when on a hangout. Let people know where you are from.
Engage in the topic and listen to others as well.
Google Hangouts is like visiting friends on the front porch of your home. It’s a way to hang out with friends or colleagues through video or text, to have fun and share videos, collaborate on projects and learn from each other.