Organizing Your Community’s First Google+ Hangout

Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: The Daring Librarian via Compfight cc

Google+ Hangouts are all the rage these days, and for good reason. They bring people together from all over the world, help them create a brand and voice for themselves, and allow people to connect about niche topics. It’s amazing what video can do in terms of making connections for people in a virtual world. Having hosted our first-ever Google+ Hangout last week, I learned a lot about what to do the next time around as well as what not to do. Yes, there was lots of that.

The key takeaway is that you should always have a clear goal in mind for the hangout. Share that with the community so they can prepare ahead of time. But to make things even easier, start with this quick checklist…

  1. Create clear goals for the hangout. It’s likely you’ll want to set up the hangout for just one hour, which will fly by, so make sure to stay focused.
  2. Write exactly 5 questions for everyone to discuss. No more, no less. Yes, I’m putting a hard and fast rule down here. It allows you to throw some out if you’re running low on time but will make everyone feel secure that there will not be awkward pauses.
  3. Decide what exactly you want to take away for everyone: white paper, best practices, come to some sort of decision, simply hear everyone out.
  4. Set up the Google Hangout and invite anyone that may be on Google+ there.
  5. If your community is not centered around Google+ (which it likely is not), reach a wider audience by setting up an Eventbrite invite. Yes, it may be a little counterintuitive to use a product designed for in-person events, but this is the best event product I know of, and it will make outreach and publicity super simple. You’ll be able to easily track your metrics, email your entire invite list, and even survey people after. After the hangout, my guess is that almost everyone will realize how amazing Google+ is and will join, but the first time, you may need to do some convincing. 🙂
  6. Set expectations. If 50 people RSVP, expect about 20 to actually show and watch the live event.  Only 10 can be on camera a time, so let people know it’s first come/first served. Maybe you only want 1-2 people on camera, and that’s fine too. Set that expectation up front. Just make sure to get the word out there.
  7. On the day of the event, make sure to send everyone a reminder with a link to the hangout itself. You can find out more about the logistics with a tutorial like this one from Tim McDonald of HuffPostLive.

And here’s a timeline of how things should go down:

  • 2-3 weeks before: Set up the event, get the word out, track RSVPs.
  • 1 week before: Send out a reminder through Google+ or Eventbrite. Now is the time to share your list of 5 questions so that it’s fresh in people’s minds.
  • 2 days before: Test out your camera and mic with a co-worker or friend. Make sure you can get a wired Internet connection. It’ll make a huge difference.
  • Day of: Send out a reminder about an hour before and then 10 minutes before, send everyone a link to join on camera. Enter the “testing” room and make sure everyone’s mic and camera are working. Then go live! Do yo thang.
  • Just after: Follow up with surveys if you want to improve for the next time around, also send out a link to the video.

Okay, now get your butt out there and start hanging out with your community!

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