Monday, April 8, 2013

5 tips to a good Google+ Hangout

Pirate Duckie doesn't worry
about nose hairs.

Getting ready to do a Google+ Hangout? Here's 5 tips for making sure your Hangout goes well:

1. Headphones: Ask all participants to use headphones or earphones. Because sound coming out of the speaker will be picked up by the radio, and because there's a small lag in most Hangouts, you can end up with a distracting echo. By asking everyone to wear headphones, you avoid the echo.

2. Raise your camera until it's about 2 inches (or just a little more) above your eyes. For those of us whose webcams are in the top of the monitor, this means you should be eye level with about the center of your screen. Why? If your webcam is below eye level, others will be looking at you from below. Nobody looks their best from the nose-hair side. Eye level to the center of your screen is good for your posture anyway. If your webcam is separate from your computer, attach it about that level. (For more tips, see Rachelle Gardner's "7 Ways to Look Good on Your Webcam.")

3. Mute typing: Ask everyone to mute their microphones when typing. Tck-tck-tck from every audio becomes annoying fast. You can still hear others as long as your speakers remain on, but turning off your own audio for typing sessions will reduce ambient noise.

4. Separate laptop keyboards: If you use a laptop, try using a USB keyboard. This goes with #2: typing with your wrists up in the air is very bad writing posture and can help lead carpal tunnel. Also, it's just plain uncomfortable. Use a separate keyboard than your laptop's built-in one so you can place at it a comfortable height. This also helps with #3 if someone forgets to mute a microphone.

5. Lower Third: Use the "Lower Third" function in the Hangout Toolbox application. Using this feature, you can add a bar with a fill-in title (usually your name), with a subtitle for things like updating wordcount, adding a job title, or just adding a funny statement. You can also change the color of the bar (good for team events). The text on your own screen will appear backwards on your monitor,  but correct on everyone else's.

What do you do to get the most from your Google+ Hangouts? Leave your own tips in the comments!

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