Hosting a Conference on Google Hangouts on Air
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How To Host a Conference on Google Hangouts on Air


  1. Everyone participating in the conference must have a Google Plus account. Sign up! If a participant uses Gmail already, then they have an account.

  2. You must specify one person as the technical director (TD). This person will initiate the conference and run the show as it progresses. The TD can also have the title of Director of Information Technology, if that helps.

  3. You must specify one person as the Moderator who will introduce the conference and introduce each speaker. The Moderator and the TD should not be the same person.

  4. Everyone participating in the conference must add the TD to their circles. Similarly, the TD must add everyone to his/her circle.

  5. You can create a Google+ Event page to announce the event (date, time, etc.). People can sign up on the Google Event page (if they have a Google Plus account) so you can keep track of how many people are interested. Also, you can email everyone on the invitation list information about the conference (but I would suggest using this feature sparingly).

  6. Every participant in the conference must download and install the Google Hangouts plugin.

  7. Announce a hashtag on Twitter. If you want to get discussion going early, start a Twitter hashtag and announce it. You can use the hashtag later to take questions (optional).

Pre-Conference Preparation

  1. Test run Google Hangouts on Air. Get some friends together and simulate the conference. This will give you a chance to iron out some bugs and see if you really know how to work things.

  2. For each speaker in the conference, try to initiate a Google Hangout with each of them individually. You can use this as an opportunity to get to know them (especially if you haven’t met), tell them what you expect from them, and how the conference will operate.

  3. Find out which speakers will be using slides. Slides can be presented using the screenshare feature in Google hangouts but it's not always obvious how this works. Practice it so that each speaker using slides knows exactly how to get it to work. That way during the conference there isn't a long delay.

Conference Day!

  1. To start the Google Hangout, you can go to the Hangouts on Air page.

  2. The TD should initiate the Google Hangout on Air about 20 to 30 minutes before the actual start time. This gives you a little breathing room to make sure the Internet is, you know, working. In order to start the Hangout you need to invite someone. At this point, simply invite the person who is the Moderator.

  3. Once the Google Hangout on Air is initiated, you will get the YouTube link as well as the embed code. At this point you are NOT broadcasting so don't worry!

  4. Put the YouTube link on the Google+ Events page (if you have one) as the "website URL". Use the embed code wherever you want to embed the video live stream (like on your blog).

  5. Start inviting the speakers to the Hangout. You can do this from the Hangouts on Air interface.

  6. Once everyone has logged in, test that everyone can speak and hear everyone else. Check that there's no weird feedback or other audio problem.

Running the Conference

  1. Once everyone is situated and ready to go, the TD should click the "Start Broadcast" button to start the broadcast and activate the YouTube live stream.

  2. Note that there will likely be a delay with the YouTube live stream of 30 seconds to a minute or so. Don't let this phase you! Just start talking, otherwise there will be a weird silent gap on the live stream.

  3. The TD or the Moderator should open the conference and welcome everyone. The TD should click on the window of whomever is speaking. Only the TD can control which face is appearing in the large screen for the live stream.

  4. The moderator should then introduce the first speaker and then let him/her speak. Once the first speaker start, the TD should click on his/her window in the Hangout.

  5. The Moderator (or another person) should monitor the Twitter hashtag to see if questions come up. If there are only a few questions, you might want to have a prepared set of questions for all the speakers.

  6. While the speaker is speaking, the moderator can use the chat window on the side to indicate to the speaker how many minutes they have left. It’s good to give them 5 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute, and "time's up". This works if the presenter is NOT using slides via screenshare.

  7. If a presenter is using slides via screenshare, then they will not see the chat window because they'll probably be looking at their slides. You can use a direct Google Gchat to try and communicate with them. Or maybe send them a text message. Basically, you need another way to get their attention. Once the first speaker is finished, the moderator should introduce the next speaker and continue through with the rest of the speakers.

  8. Once all the speakers are done, if you are taking questions, then the Moderator can scan the Twitter hashtag and feed questions to the speakers.

  9. Thank everyone and sign off. The TD should click the "End Broadcast" button to turn off the live stream.

  10. Once the broadcast ends, the video of the event will be available on YouTube immediately.