Replace Your Webinar Service With Google+ Hangouts For Free

Replace Your Webinar Service WIth Google Hangouts for Free Artwork

This last week I was scheduled to meet with a group of instructors for a local networking webinar.  The purpose of the webinar was to demonstrate the process of checking-in attendees to each of our own personal events and following up with each attendee before and after we taught or session.1

In typical fashion, the host and fellow instructors jumped on the call and did the basic webinar setup before she trained all of us on how to use her website’s platform.  Without boring you with the dirty details, I’ll just tell you that the host was having a series of technical issues as it related to audio and her webinar service provider.

I felt really bad because I knew that she was frustrated with the audio quality of the call and how it flowed.  At times she tried to call into the webinar from her phone, but there seemed to be a number of audio issues as it was likely related to the service/software. In fact, I had tried to ask a question during her presentation and the service wasn’t recognizing my own microphone for some reason.

FRUSTRATING!!

As she had gone through her webinar presentation, I kept thinking to myself, “I know she [the host] would feel more confident in using Google+ Hangouts,” to do the exact same thing she was trying to convey with the service she found online.

If you have found yourself in the same situation where your webinar has not flowed easily, let this blog entry try to remedy your struggles.

Setting Up Your Google+ Hangout Webinar as a Content Creator 

In this section I will break down the steps to prepping your Hangout Webinar before you start inviting attendees.

As a note to content creators, I recommend that you are using the Chrome web browser for all of these webinars.  Since Chrome is a Google product, you will decrease your chance of losing the webinar call or having difficulties inside of the webinar. 

Step 1: Download the Hangouts Plugin to Your Computer

If you have a Google+ profile but have never started a Hangout before, it is absolutely necessary you download this official Google plugin to your computer. Once you have downloaded it, install the plugin.

Download this plugin: http://www.shannonjhernandez.com/hangoutplugin

Step 2: Restart Your Chrome Browser

Once you have installed the plugin, restart your Chrome browser completely.  For Mac users, this means closing the whole program out completely.  If you don’t know how to do this, watch the video below.

Step 3: Install the Where Am I? App for Hangouts

When you jump inside of a Hangout you are presented with a series of applications that you can use within the session.  These include Screenshare, Photo Capture, Google Drive, Chat, Effects and so much more.  Additionally, you can install brand new applications from within the Hangout’s repository.  Here’s an example of how you can download those applications into your Hangout:

Hangouts Application Repository

However, there is one useful application that is not found in the repository and that’s the Where Am I? application.

The purpose of Where Am I?  is to gather the customized invitation link for your attendees.  This application is absolutely necessary if you are trying to utilize Hangouts as your webinar service provider.

When you click the following link, you will be taken to the Where Am I? web page where you will be provided a button to install the application into your Hangout.  When you have clicked on the button (as illustrated in the following image), a brand new Chrome tab will open for a Hangout.

Let Hangouts start up and Where Am I? will install itself into your application side-bar.

Once the application is installed, go ahead and close out the entire Hangouts tab.

Download Where Am I?: http://www.shannonjhernandez.com/whereami

Installing-Where-Am-I-Animation

 

Step 4: Schedule a YouTube Live Event and Gather Where Am I? Links

Before I go any further, I should explain that you are scheduling a YouTube Live event for your webinar because this is the only way you will be able to acquire the static links to send to your participants.  Since the Hangout will be scheduled, you can go back and pull those same links.

Also, the Hangout will be recorded for you to repurpose into a landing or LeadPage as a replay.

If you don’t know how to schedule a YouTube Live Event, click here to be taken to that blog post.  You can also watch this video here:

Now that you have scheduled your event, go ahead and start the Hangout and pull the links from the Where Am I? application.

You will see four headings that relate to Hangout URL, Shortened Hangout URL, Full YouTube URL, Shortened YouTube URL.  Let’s tackle each one head on…

Hangout URL & Shortened Hangout URL

The Hangout URL is the customized/designated link for your scheduled Hangout. In other words, this is the link that will be given to your participants to come into the Hangout without having to invite them through Google+. This link is strictly for them so they can join the Hangout without any problems.

It’s totally up to you on which link you want to share with them.  I prefer to send the Shortened Hangout URL simply because it’s shorter and doesn’t look so ugly to the participant.

Full YouTube URL & Shortened YouTube URL

Depending on how creative you want to get with your webinar, the YouTube URLs are great for people who can’t tune into your webinar on the computer, but are able to watch via mobile device.  Let your imagination run wild when you use this YouTube link if you plan on having people watch via their phone or tablet.

Pulling the Where Am I Links for your participants

As long as you don’t click the Start Broadcast button in the Hangout, those links will remain the same until you start the broadcast.  After you have started your Hangout, the link will expire and you cannot start the Hangout again.  Please use caution when you are copying links from the Hangout Green Room (the setup).

Capture Webinar Participant Email Addresses and Draft an Auto-respond Message

Depending on how you are capturing your participants for your scheduled Hangout Webinar, you will need to send them an email with instructions on how to join the webinar at your designated time.  Since your participants may not likely be on Google+, they will need to register for a Gmail account and set up a basic Google+ profile.

Don’t worry about having them upload a photo if they don’t want to.  The purpose of them creating this profile is so they can join your webinar strictly.  You can use the example script below or print a copy here to make your own edits:

 

Now that you have gotten the harder parts done, you can practice your webinar presentation for your participants.  Click the video below to learn how you can pull your presentation into Google Hangouts:

 

How Many Participants Can I Have in the Hangout Webinar?

When you hold your Hangout/Webinar, note that there can only be 10 people in the video filmstrip (including you). For anyone else you invite into the Hangout, the overflow will channel into the chat.

When someone from the filmstrip drops out of the call, someone from the chat can jump in and take their place. I would make a note to your participants that it’s a first come, first serve call in case anyone gets a little bummed that they can’t be in the filmstrip.

How Many Presenters Can I Have in the Hangout Webinar?

You can have as many presenters as you want. When I have held my own webinar, I have had one other co-host/presenter with me in the filmstrip.  Granted, we didn’t have any other participants, but if we did that would have meant there would have only been 8 spots available to potential participants.

Now that I have made you read this entire post, you can go ahead and watch these instructions through this video:

 

It is my sincere hope that you find this blog useful and the information contained in it provides you with a solution to your webinar woes.

If you’ve been using Google Hangouts for your webinars, how have you gotten creative with them?  What would you like to see when it comes to this technique? Leave me a comment and let me know.

  1. Can you guess what I taught?? []

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About Shannon

Shannon Hernandez is a professional broadcaster, podcast producer, digital marketing consultant and trainer. He assists anyone from aspiring podcasters to small business owners deliver their message and grow their audience.
  • Kristin Slice

    Hey Shannon, Once you record a Google Live Hangout can you take the audio and turn it into a podcast? Where do you get the “recording” from?

  • http://www.shannonjhernandez.com/ Shannon J. Hernandez

    Hi Kristin,

    Sorry to get back to you so late on this. For whatever reason, Disqus is not notifying me of comments to my blog.

    Once the Hangout is recorded, you go into your YouTube Channel and find where the the recording is housed in the Video Manager. From there, you can pull the MP4 from YouTube. After that, you will need to drag that file into something like Adobe Audition to pull the audio only.

    I apologize for getting back to you so late.