How to totally screw up G+ Hangouts for business

Google Hangouts are awesome,the buzzword on every business’s lips but it’s not all rosy in the garden; there are some things you should NOT be doing when you use Hangouts.

You’ve  possibly thought that Google Hangouts are clearly aimed at users of Skype’s services, in particular video chat. If that’s the case existing Skype users should think about why they should switch.  In my own experience I couldn’t wait to get off of Skype as the call quality was never that great, video chat frequently dropped and sharing screens with a client was hit and miss. If it rained I’d lose my Skype connection and when you are based in the UK (the country where summer is implanted firmly into the imaginations of  the country’s inhabitants) then you were screwed when you tried to use Skype for anything beyond a text chat.

The’re seemingly other drawbacks too, like the requirement for users to have to have a Google+ account if they wanted to take part in a video Hangout, not to mention a limit of 10 participants. But then I’ve never got more than 5 on a Skype video chat so who am I to say that 10 is limited? Those issues still remain, but have been largely sidestepped by the sheer weight of numbers – the number of people with Google+ accounts (mostly business users), and the integration possibilities with the people who have Gmail and YouTube accounts.

So, with all that in mind, what’s the one way you should not use Google Hangouts?

Like an amateur.

Let’s look at some examples of how to use Video Hangout to show what I mean.

You can use Hangouts to connect with existing clients, whether that’s training, questions and answers, or just relationship building with face-to-face connection. No client will want to see you on his or her screen, fumbling about looking for which button to press, or disconnecting, or displaying the wrong person. It doesn’t look professional.

Similarly, if you are using Live Hangouts to get new clients, it’s even worse to come across as if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Checkout this great video from Ronnie Bincer on locating and using Live hangouts.

There is a time when it’s ok to admit you are in new territory, which I’ll come to later, but a webinar where you are presenting to attract new clients is not that time.

Maybe you want to create a product, using the recording function to make a training video or host an interview. Those are great ways to create products, but the recordings won’t be great at all if you are making mistakes or using the Hangout badly. If people are paying for a video product, they are paying for content, and will not thank you for distracting them with errors and wasting their valuable time.

If it’s so important to look business like if you are using Hangouts for business reasons, then what’s the way around looking amateurish when you first start?


It’s not rocket science, but so many people just pile in before they are used to the functions, whether that’s down to impatience or laziness about learning, to iron out the kinks before going live. I’ll admit to doing this from time to time but never with paying clients – it’s not respectful!

Earlier we said it was not ok to look like you were fumbling around – well, that’s true, but it *is* ok to look like that when you hold a rehearsal session!

Gather a group of friends and get them onto a video Hangout to see what happens.

You could even get a group of clients together, if you offer them something in exchange for being your guinea pigs. When you are hanging out press buttons, talk and mute each other, add tiaras, name tags, beards and hats… use the whiteboard and generally get to know what all the functions are before you hook up with a paying client or start presenting live on air.

If you are running training or development coaching, then your mistakes will be good as part of that coaching, but don’t let that example persuade you into thinking that making mistakes is ok – it isn’t!

So, practice using the function first. That may sound boring, and it may even be boring, but it’ll mean you look professional when you use the service with real, live clients and you’ll be avoiding one of the ways not to use Google Hangouts for business.

Over to you – how are your hangouts for business coming along? Share your experiences in a comment


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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
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  1. Interesting post! A groups of science colleagues and I have been experimenting with Hangout sessions for our twitter community under #IsisVSTomasson. We take a topic that generates some heat on twitter and have a (very!) loose discussion around it. We have been very pleased with success of the format so far and are continuing to evolve. Would love comments, suggestions and re-tweets!!

  2. I love the silly hats and tiaras amongst friends, but obviously these would be totally inappropriate for business!

    What’s the difference between a regular and live Hangout? Can you schedule the latter? One problem I’ve seen is a bunch of friends say, “oh let’s hangout!” and then its not so easy or obvious to find each other!
    Sally recently posted..Exciting times in CLL: an ASCO 2013 interview with Dr Susan O’BrienMy Profile

  3. I haven’t used G+ Hangouts yet, I have been contemplating though since I get to do video chat with more than 1 person. It’s hard to get my friends in there to try, they’re normally in Facebook and Skype and when I mentioned it, they’re like what is it? Anyway, these are valuable tips to note when you’re using it for business. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!
    Cherrie Bautista recently posted..Inspiring Kids to be HealthyMy Profile

  4. I quite like Google Hangouts but I like to record them but it seems like one can’t record unless you are on air which is such a negative. I know I definitely need work but wonder if you know how to get round it,
    Romany Thresher recently posted..Why I recommend Robyn LambrickMy Profile


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