10 Ways to Make Google Hangout a Better Experience for All

g plus icon 150x150 10 Ways to Make Google Hangout a Better Experience for All

Google Plus

In the last couple days, the invite feature for Google+ has stayed open, which means we could start seeing an influx of people wondering what this new social network is about. We all want to connect with friends.

One great way to do that is through Google Hangout. We can talk with up to 9 others on a single session, which is a lot of fun. However, sometimes it can be a painful experience if someone in the group is moving around a lot or not being courteous to others. So how can we all make our hangouts a great experience?

Let’s give you 10 ideas.

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Hangout with Steve Rubel

Create a comfortable environment to Hangout in

You might be on a hangout for an hour or more. The longest hangout I was on so far was around 3 hours. Therefore, finding a great place to personally hang out is key to making your experience a better one. A comfortable chair and a good table or other surface can give you a comfortable setting.

Hanging out with your Laptop on your Lap – the Webcam is on

There was one hangout where 2 women were present. One of them had her laptop on her lap. Several times she had to move around, causing the webcam to move into akward spots. Let’s just say that she gave us a great view of things at times.

During the hangout, the webcam is on the whole time. You can choose to let hangout switch between cams, or you can manually select. Therefore, people can watch as you move, scratch, pick or do something else.

Type, type, type goes the keyboard

Roger Von Oech 125x125 10 Ways to Make Google Hangout a Better Experience for All

Roger Von Oech

To you, it doesn’t sound that bad, but a keyboard on a laptop can sound like you are taking a sledgehammer to your keyboard. Even using the mouse and clicking the mouse has a definite sound.

There are two ways to counter that sound. 1. Get an external keyboard and mouse.  2. Get a headset microphone. That way you can still type away and surf the internet without the sound travelling through others ears.

External USB headsets are nice.

I would suggest you get one – USB over one that you plug into your microphone-in jack. I have had more success with good audio over a USB headset and if you are in Windows7, you can set the levels to that microphone so people aren’t hearing your impression of Darth Vader. When you unplug the USB mic, the settings change back to normal.

Need an external microphone? Check out some USB Headsets. 10 Ways to Make Google Hangout a Better Experience for All

Turn off the Microphone Boost

I am not sure why Windows used this feature. Nine times out of ten, the audio boost option has caused more problems than naught. What’s even more interesting is Google Hangout has a feature to reduce sounds, so you are basically causing your computer to work harder.

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Microphone Boost

  1. Go into audio properties
  2. Choose the “Recording” tab
  3. Select the microphone and choose “Configure”
  4. Choose the “Levels” tab and adjust.

Mute Yourself

The mute button is there and you are not talking. Use it. Just mute yourself. You will see a mute icon on your video image saying you did so. Of course, when you do start talking, you need to un-mute it.

Be a Good Moderator

If you start your own hangout, own the hangout. If you pass through the images on the bottom, you can see their names. Simply choose someone and ask – “So what do you think about…”

Let them speak

Unless they are making a mockery of the Hangout, let them finish what they have to say. If each person gets a chance, your hangout can be really productive and talked about. If you are planning to run several hangouts for promotion or more information, then working on the listening skills is a very important part.

One note that may be weird to those who haven’t done video chatting. You hear others through your speakers or headphones, but when you talk, you hear nothing through your speakers. That can be a little distracting at first. I notice that some people will start their sentence, then have to start again.

Lighting

A good light is actually pretty easy. I use a lamp with a 20 watt incandescent bulb that gives 100 watts soft light. The lamp has a white shade around it, so it can really fill out the room.

If you want less light, it’s possible to still have a good picture. However, your computer does work harder in less light, therefore you might have connection issues. When my machine flips between webcams, a camera that focuses fast will come up fast.

Make em smile, make em smile.

In this new concept to communicate on the web, we see everything you do. Start with a smile, make them feel at home and they’ll be back when you do future hangouts. Even though it doesn’t switch to you on the screen, people see you on their screens.

These are some pretty simple ideas to help you with your Google Hangout. The more you hangout, the more you’ll get used to it. The cooler you are in hangout, the less you’ll get banned. You might even get invited to a few hangouts in the future.

About Jeffrey Powers - @geekazine

I am a podcaster and V-Caster. I love to go out and talk tech with anyone. I enjoy talking with startups because they have new and innovative technologies. You can find Geekazine at Google+ and me at my page. I also have shows at Day in Tech History, iPad365, This Week in Google Glass and a Podcast Coach at How to Record Podcasts. You can also sign up for a Helpout