My team and I meet regularly using Google Hangout. It’s a free tool for group video chats. We also use Google Hangouts for live webinars and have had up to 2,800 people on live during a webinar.
One of the advantages of using Google Hangouts is the ability to share screens. When meeting with our software developers, for example, there may be four of us on the Hangout all sharing screens simultaneously. Our company wanted us to use Webex, but we spent up to 50% of the meeting fumbling around switching presenters. A frustrating experience I decided not to repeat.
To get started with Google Hangout, you’ll want to use the Chrome browser and add the Google Hangout extension for Chrome. You’ll also need a Google account, which most people have through their Gmail account.
The problem with Hangouts is creating the meeting links. We would schedule a meeting, then create the Hangout link and email it to everyone. This wasted a few minutes while people waited for the email and clicked on the link.
If you have a WordPress site, you can create a reusable personalized link, such was www.markhoustonsmith.com/hangout.
Steps for Creating a Personalized Reusable Hangout URL
- Add PrettyLink Lite plugin to your WordPress site.
- Add the Hangouts extension for Chrome to your browser. Google Hangouts works best with a Chrome browser.
- Start a Google Hangout. You can do this from Chrome browser by clicking on the Hangout icon. You can setup a Hangout with yourself or anyone else. What you’re looking for is the permanent URL that is assigned to the Hangout such as: https://plus.google.com/hangouts/_/g3r2a7a36dbgjjbo3kumw5k5tya
- Copy that link and and create a permanent redirect in PrettyLinks. See the example below.
Now, I can give someone the www.markhoustonsmith.com/hangout URL and they’ll be redirected to my permanent Hangout link. I can put this in a calendar invite and my team knows exactly what link to use for the video chat.
So far, I’ve used my permanent Google Hangout over 400 times. It hasn’t worked perfectly every time. For example, I’ve had a few times where somebody got in my Hangout before I did and we’ll get the message, “The Party is Over, Start another Hangout.” But, it’s worked about 95% of the time. Enough for me to keep using it.
This personalized hangout link has saved me a lot of time and it’s cool <g>.