Hangouts are one of the most fun features in Google+. As long as you have a webcam and a microphone, you can "hangout" with up to 10 of your buddies on Google+ and do just about anything. Of course, sometimes it can get kind of awkward when you are hanging out and you don't really have anything to say. This problem can be mitigated if you host hangouts with a plan.
At WonderHowTo, we are always fans of anything instructional. Host a hangout where you are the teacher - and the sky's the limit on what you can teach. Since the medium is visual, you can teach anything from guitar to a foreign language to origami. You can help your students with any questions they have, and get direct feedback about what is and isn't working for you.
Google+ Community Manager +Natalie Villalobos has been exploring some of the more existential uses for hangouts by introducing group meditation and yoga sessions to the Google+ community. Although you might think meditation's a more solitary pursuit, it can be a fun way to connect with others by having them join you in your spiritual journey.
Singer/songwriter +Daria Musk decided to hold a mini-concert on July 16, 2011. Unfortunately, I didn't get to join in, but it looks like it was a lot of fun. She also created a map for audience members to tag themselves. This is a great way for musicians to promote their work and connect with their audience on a truly personal level.
It's starting to catch on. Check out the next Google hangout concert with jazz guitarist +Rob Michael on July 22, 2011!
Google Accessibility Engineer +Naomi Black is trying to help members who use sign language improve features on Google+. I think the Hangout is especially suited to learning a new language - especially because it's visual. So often, language learning gets lost in tapes and repetition, and you can't get a true feel for the language without talking to native speakers. So set up hangouts with people who speak a language different from you, and exchange information. Learn their slang, their dialect, and who knows, maybe they'll want to learn your language, too.
According to Fast Company, the London-based International Tibet Network held a Google+ Hangout Press Conference last Friday. They invited select journalists to join in and talk about the issues affecting Tibetans today. News of the press conference quickly spread via Twitter and YouTube. You can check out how they did it:
Job interviews are time-consuming and can be a frustrating experience for both the interviewer and interviewee. Ease the tension with a hangout. Invite other colleagues who may be working with your potential hire to the hangout so they can ask relevant questions. With the hangout feature, you can generate a more casual atmosphere and get to really know your interviewee.
Hangouts are a great way to hold meetings, especially for many people who telecommute. If you work with a team whose members are scattered all over the nation, or the world, holding a meeting in a hangout is a cost-effective method of keeping people in the loop and address concerns without the wasted time & money on air travel.
If you're a telecommuter, connecting with face-to-face chats with your coworkers can help you in ways that IRC cannot. It can help you with your cabin fever and prevent you from going with your laptop to stay at a coffee shop all day. You can bounce ideas off your coworkers and find solutions in a much more productive manner.
+Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell, recently asked his followers if they were interested in connecting with the Dell sales team via hangouts, and the answer was a resounding "YES!" It's a great way to increase customer engagement, and put a human face to your company or corporation. Think about the possibilities - your sales team could explain and show your product directly to a customer, and walk them through the entire process from browsing to purchase.
This home surveillance system isn't going to replace your security system, but it's a nice thing to set up so that you can check on your home when you want to. For example, you can use it to check when a package has been delivered. From derilium at Lifehacker, you'll need to set up a second Google Account, and add that email to its own circle. When you want to check in on your house, just start a hangout with the alternate account.
- Ask people you've invited to bring a question or two for your topic.
- Record your sessions for posterity. You never know who might want to learn from your genius or want to be inspired by you. You can use various screen capture applications, but there's nothing official from Google. (Yet.)
- Be natural! Don't feel you need to set up a lecture in order to start. You don't necessarily have to start on time, and you can wait for people to join your hangout before beginning.
- If you've recorded your hangout session and decided to share it with your circle, keep in mind that you cannot currently caption video with Google+. However, if you upload the video to YouTube, you can create captions and subtitles there.
- You can find and submit public hangouts at gphangouts.
Have you hosted a cool and interesting hangout? Tell us about it in the comments or in our forum.