Tools for Transparency: Chat With Your Audience on Google Hangouts


Google Hangouts is an excellent free tool that lets you video chat anyone with an internet connection and a web cam.  You can connect with up to 12 different people to video chat, IM or watch YouTube videos together.

Two Hangout features I think are incredibly useful are the ability to make conversations public and to add various types of content to the conversation via Google Docs and screen sharing. This way, you can work on ideas collaboratively and review documents in sync with another person no matter where you are. You could even potentially run your own version of Sunlight Live.

So how would you do this?

When you start a Hangout, you can add additional content to your conversation by clicking Hangouts with extras:

Google Hangouts add extras

Google will take you to the extras page where you can name your Hangout, see its URL and choose to add specific guests or make your conversation public. If you choose to make your Hangout public, you can still invite up to 11 individuals of your own choosing:

Google Hangouts info

Once your Hangout has started, you can collaboratively edit documents…

Collaboratively edit documents

Open documents and presentations from your Google Docs account…

Google Hangouts - open documents

Screen share other open applications or screens…

Google Hangouts screenshare

And chat with other participants…

You can see the potential for interacting, collaborating and communicating with small groups and large audiences. All you’d need to make your own Sunlight Live, for example, is a video stream. You could feed that into a Google Hangout, add prepared content and host a few people to answer questions and add facts and commentary.

What do you think? Have you used Google Hangouts? Do you have any ideas or tips on ways to use it?