After producing 100+ online events while I worked at Motorola Mobility ranging from live audio podcasts on blogtalkradio, webinars using Adobe Connect, Ustream events and Google+ Hangouts I’ve gone thru every type of issue. I’ve had the audio issues, people can’t connect, guest speaker gets disconnected where I’m stranded for a couple of minutes to talk about something and so many more issues. After going thru all of those, I’ve learned some best practices that I want to share with you. Here are top 5 tips for Google+ Hangouts for your business:
- Don’t use the Google+ Hangout Invite functionality
- Invites aren’t reliable and there is no way for your to take those leads and follow-up with them after the event is over. In the past, I’ve used Eventbrite to get people to register and answer a few survey questions. Others online event producers that I know have used Marketo or some other marketing automation tool.
- Have the proper external mic, headphones and lighting in-place
- You are going to be on camera so make sure the main engagement sources – your voice and perfect smile – are heard and visibile. I’d recommend an external USB mic and for lighting just make sure you aren’t behind a sunny window because your face will be all dark. If you have the ability get some lights shining at your face, to the sides and behind you. No need to buy a bunch but look what you have available in the office/home. And finally, get some headphones for the potential in feedback in your panelists speakers (remember when you called into the radio station, you were so excited that you had the radio still blasted and the DJ asked you to turn it down…use headphones to mitigate this potential problem).
- Use an Ethernet connection vs. Wi-Fi
- When you are doing any live event and streaming video and audio ethernet is highly recommended. Google+ Hangout doesn’t do a good job of streaming with low-bandwidth and alerting you to a bad connection. I was on a Hangout earlier in the year and the host was delayed by over 1 minute and was repeating questions that were already answered by others on the panel – it was painful to watch especially the recording afterwards!
- Start with a private invite
- When it comes time to the actual Google+ Hangout, invite only those people that you’ve pre-screened. Don’t invite the public or any of your circles! You want to keep the conversation on your Google+ Hangout according to what your agenda is. Sure you might leave room for Q&A from the audience but inviting anyone will result in random people that have untested audio and video appearing within your recording. As always with any online event, give your panelists a call before the Hangout at least 1 to 2 weeks before to go over the questions and double-check their Google+ Hangout settings.
- Plan 4 to 6 weeks in advance
- Lots of planning is involved in a Google+ Hangout even though the tool is so easy to use. I’d recommend you send out an email blast to your database at least 2 weeks in advance and depending on your organization and process it might take 4 weeks to come up with copy, graphics, agenda questions, create an event page and internal approvals.
I hope these tips help and if you would like to share your best practices on producing a Google+ Hangout or online events in general comment below. Thanks and talk to you soon.
Follow @djksar on Twitter