How to Host a Google Hangout on Air

A step-by-step guide with screenshots

Sarah Thomas

Hello!  Here is a step-by-step guide to hosting Google Hangouts on Air.  They archive automatically to your YouTube channel.  

For best results, make sure you are using the Google Chrome browser, on a computer with a webcam.  Best practice: ask on-camera participants to convene approximately 15 minutes online to test video and audio.

Step One:

Navigate to, and open the Apps panel on the top right hand side of the screen.  Click on the first icon, +You.

Step Two:

Login to your Google account, or create one if need be, by clicking on the “Create an Account” link on the bottom of the screen.

Step Three:

If you have not already done so, create a Google Plus account by filling in the required information.

Step Four:

Access the dropdown menu, by clicking on the Home button on the top left hand side of the screen.

Step Five:

Click on the Hangouts button.

Step Six:

Near the top of the page, click on the menu bar item, “Hangouts on Air.”

Step Seven:

Click on the blue button near the top right, “Start a Hangout on Air.”

Step Eight:

Fill in the requested information.  

Click on “Starts: Now” for the third option.  

For Audience, add in the email addresses of everyone who you would like to give permission to view your Google Hangout on Air.  These attendees will not necessarily appear on camera (see Step 11 to invite people who will appear in the Google Hangout on Air.)

When you have finished, click “Share.”

Step 8a:

Some users may run into the following message, particularly if it is your first time hosting a Google Hangout on Air.

Click on the link.  If a dialogue pops up saying, “New Choices for your YouTube name,” click on Next, then “Update my Name.”  You should then see this window.

Select a verification method, then enter the code that is delivered to you via phone call or text.

At this screen, click “Continue,” then close the tab.

At this screen, choose “Share.”

Step 9:

You will arrive on your Event page.  Here, you will see the name of your event, and the following window.

The buttons on the bottom row must be clicked to be activated, with the exception of Showcase and Applause.  For the purposes of your Hangout, I would strongly suggest activating the Q&A feature, and possibly the Applause.  Here is a brief description of each button:

 By clicking on the “Trailer” button, you can insert a YouTube video that attendees can play while they wait for your event to go live.

 Be sure to click on the Q&A button before beginning the Google Hangout, as described in Step 12.

 Showcase button, in order to add clickable links that attendees can access from the Hangout.

 Applause button, in which attendees can click to “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” the conversation in the Google Hangout on Air.

Directly under the window described in above, there is an area where you and attendees can write comments regarding the event.  You also have an option to post relevant pictures, by clicking on the camera icon.

Step Ten:

Directly across from the comment box, there is an area called “Details,” which gives you general information about your Google Hangout.  Click on the “Links” button on the top right hand side of the box.

The following dialogue box should open.  Send the participants the very first link, as it will bring them to this Event page.

Step 11:

Now, you are ready to go!  Click on the Start button near the top of your screen, as referenced in Step Nine.


A new window will open, which is the actual Google Hangout.  If you are prompted for any permissions, click “Allow” for all of them.

The next window that you will encounter looks like this.

This is where you will invite participants who will be on camera to participate in the Google Hangout on Air.  Add each participant’s email address, then click “Invite.”

Check the box at the bottom, and click on Continue.

Step 12:

Congratulations, you are now inside the Google Hangout!  

You will probably see yourself, if all of your settings are correct.  

Looking at the X axis on top of the video, here are some icons you may see:

This button will allow you to invite on-air participants, similarly to how you were able to do so in Step 11.  If you click on it, you have a new option:

From here, you can send a direct link to participants, so that they are able to join the hangout.  Going back to the X-axis buttons...

This button mutes your audio.  No one will be able to hear you if you activate this button.  **TIP:  Mute yourself when you are not speaking, and unmute yourself to speak.  If everyone does this, you will likely not have annoying echoes.**

This button turns off your video camera.  If you click on this, no one will be able to see you.  Instead, they will see your Google Plus profile picture.

This button hangs up the video call.  

Now, let’s shift our attention to a few buttons of interest on the Y-axis.

This menu is activated when you hover over the left side of your screen.  It is hidden, until you move your mouse to this region.  Here are a few buttons that you may find useful:

Chat feature.  On-camera participants will be able to have a side chat, visible to all participants and attendees.  This is particularly useful as a backchannel.

Screenshare.  Clicking on this allows you to display whatever is on your screen in the Google Hangout.

Q&A Feature.  Click this button if you would like to be able to interact with attendees, people who are not on camera.  They will be able to type questions, which will appear as they submit them, if you have enabled this feature in Step Nine. To see participants’ questions or comments, click on the Q&A Button.

Control Room (moderator only).  Use this button to control the volume levels of on-camera participants.

One last thing…

To go live, click on the “Start Broadcast” button at the bottom of the window.  It will take approximately 30 seconds to show up from the time you enter into the main Google Hangout (beginning of Step 12).

Once you click this button, click OK, then wait for the top “Off Air” button to say “Live.”  Everything you say from that point will be recorded and sent to your YouTube page, until you click “Stop Broadcast.”

Once you hit “Stop Broadcast,” you will no longer be recording.  On the bottom of the screen where it says, “Live,” the message will switch to “Off Air.”  You can then close the window.

Wait approximately 30 minutes from the time you finish recording, then check your YouTube channel.  Your video should be there.

For further viewing, please watch this video.