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Hanging out with Google+ Hangouts: Enter the Green Room

Liezl Hesketh in Collaborative working 

by Anna Lourens


Tired of not having enough time to fit meetings into your schedule? Travel time and meeting place limitations often get in the way. Well, Google+ Hangouts solves that problem! Now you can fit a meeting or group conversation into your busy schedule from anywhere you are connected to the Internet. Google+ Hangouts works on phones, tablets and computers (Andriod and iOS software). This means that you can start a conversation at home and continue it on your phone when travelling. If you want to know how it works then you are in the right place! Remember that you need a microphone and a webcam.


Follow these steps:

1.  Sign-in on or register a Gmail account

Then click on the Google+ link which takes you to your Google+ profile. You can find the link in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

 2.   Find the Hangouts panel

The Hangout feature is in the right-hand-side panel on the Google+ page. You should see the green speech bubble in the panel.

 3.   Hangouts Options

      • Add people: Add people by clicking on the +button at the top of the Hangouts list. You can type in their name, email, address, phone number or circle.

A circle is a group of people you know and have as contacts on your Google+ account. You can save these groups under personalised category names, called circles. An example is “Gym buddies”.

      • Hangout menu: Find the Hangouts Menu by clicking on the down arrow in the Hangout panel. It will give you a variety of settings you can change like finding archived Hangouts are Hangout invitations.
      • Chat menu: You can only find the chat menu during a Hangout. It is on the left-hand side of your screen. Hover over it with your mouse for it to appear. These are the chat menu options:
        • Screenshare: Share the display of your screen to show people what you are working, for example, a document.
        • Capture: Take and share a photo.
        • Google Effects: Have a fun conversation with people by putting on funny headgear or wearing props.
        • YouTube: Watch and share videos while in a conversation. You can adjust the sound or pause the video to continue talking.
        • Google Drive: Upload a document or share saved documents on your Google Drive. Use this option to work on a document simultaneously. Perfect for group work!

 4.   Start a new Hangout

      • Start Hanging out: At the bottom of the panel there is an icon of a green video camera and next to it, it says “Start a video Hangout”. This is where you click to start talking to people.Google Hangouts
        • After starting the video Hangout, you may be asked to install a plugin. If so, then click on “Install Plugin”. Wait while it is verifying installation.
        • After installation, a window should pop-up thanking you for installing Google voice and video calls. You may exit the window.
        • Google+ Hangouts will then say that “You are about to join a video call”. It will also say how many people are in the voice call already. Click on “Join”.
      • Invite: You can now invite people to join your conversation. You can invite more people as the conversation progresses. They will receive the option to accept and join the conversation.
        • Someone has to be online to Hangout, but if they are offline, your message will be sent to them later.
      • Choose video or text Hangout:
        • Chat: Use the chat window to share links and other information during a conversation.
        • Emoji: Share ‘smileys’ with people in your chats.
        • Mute mic: If you are in a group conversation it is a good idea to mute your microphone until it is your time to speak. This helps people not to interrupt others and also to eliminate distracting background noises. You can find the mute button at the bottom of your screen in the ‘film strip’ area.
        • Mute video: You can also mute the video to turn off your camera if you want to have a conversation without people seeing you.
        • Exit: Remember to leave the Hangout to exit the conversation.

Google+ Hangouts etiquette:

Your background: Remember that people can not only see you, but what is behind you. If it is a professional call, then it is wise to have it in you study or in front of a blank wall. You don’t want people to look into your bedroom when in a meeting.

Your clothing: Dress like you would dress when meeting the people you are talking to in public.

Especially good for foreign students, use Google+ Hangouts to conveniently set up a meeting with a possible landowner or renter you saw online  at  You could even do a “virtual viewing” of a property, using Google+ Hangouts!

Welcome to the digital age … now I dare you to try it!