Since the death of Google Talk, Google Hangouts for business has really taken off, especially as a no-charge video conferencing platform for businesses. However, nothing is perfect, including a new Google service. Which brings us to the point of this article; the things you should NOT be doing with Google Hangouts.
From the beginning it was fairly obvious that Google was trying to take a shot at Skype, which was recently acquired by Microsoft and integrated into their new OS, Windows 8. Of course, existing Skype users asked themselves why they should switch, while Google’s account holders asked themselves why they shouldn’t just use Skype if they wanted video chat!
There were other drawbacks too; like the requirement for Hangouts users to have to have a Google+ account to take part in a Hangout, as well as the rather arbitrary limit of just 10 participants who could be “In” your Hangout.
These issues remain, but have been largely sidestepped by the sheer weight of numbers – the number of people with Google+ accounts (who are predominantly business users), and the possibilities for full integration with the vast numbers of people who have Gmail or YouTube accounts.
So, with all that in mind, what’s the one way you should NOT use Google Hangouts?
Do NOT use Hangouts like an amateur
Let’s look at some examples of how to use the service, to illustrate what we mean.
You can use Hangouts to connect with existing clients; whether that’s training, questions and answers, or just relationship building with a face-to-face connection. However, no client will want to see you on his or her screen, fumbling about looking for which button to press, or accidentally disconnecting, or displaying the wrong person. It will make you look extremely unprofessional.
Similarly, if you are using Hangouts to attract new clients, it’s even worse to come across as if you don’t know what you’re doing! There is a time when it’s OK to admit you are exploring new territory, which I’ll come to later, but a webinar to attract new clients is definitely not that time.
You may also want to use Hangouts to create a video product, using the recording function to make a training video or host an interview; which can also be uploaded to your YouTube channel. Those are great ways to create products, but the recordings won’t be great at all if you are making mistakes or using Hangouts like a newbie. If people are paying for a video product, they are paying for content, and will not thank you for distracting them with errors.
Because it is incredibly important to look business-like when you use Hangouts for business, there is only one way to avoid looking like an amateur when you begin.
Practice Using Hangouts Before you Use Hangouts
While being able to use Google Hangouts effectively is certainly not rocket science – unless you’re a scientist discussing rockets on Hangout of course – you can’t just jump in with both feet and hope to swim without sinking before you understand how Hangouts works.
To avoid looking like an amateur during a real Hangouts presentation or video conference, conduct a practice session with people who won’t mind you fumbling the functions a bit as you learn. You might bring together a group of friends or business associates who also want to learn the Hangouts functions, and you can all learn together!
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 Hangouts function first. That may sound boring and obvious – and it may even be boring and obvious – but will also mean you look like the professional you claim to be when you use the service for real. You’ll be avoiding one of the ways NOT to use Google Hangouts for business. In fact, knowing how to use Google Hangouts effectively is a simple way to place yourself above the many others who have not invested the time and energy required to look like a real professional!