How to Participate in a Hangout on Air

A step-by-step guide with screenshots

Sarah Thomas

Hello!  Here is a step-by-step guide to participating in Google Hangouts on Air.  Keep in mind that they will be recorded.

For best results, make sure you are using the Google Chrome browser, on a computer with a webcam.  Best practice: arrive approximately 15 minutes ahead of time to test video and audio.

The host will invite you to the event in one of two ways:

  1. Directly from the Hangout.
  2. By sending you a link to join the Hangout.

Let’s explore what both ways might look like.


Scenario 1:  Host invites from the Hangout

Navigate to google.com, 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:

Once the host adds your email address from the main Hangout window, you will hear a musical tone, and see a pop-up in your Google Plus page.  The pop-up looks like this:

Click “Answer.”  Skip to p. 6.


Scenario 2:  Host sends you a link to join

If this is the case, ensure that the host has sent you the link from inside the Google Hangout participant invite window...

...and not the one from the event page!!!

This is critical, and a very common mistake.  

Once you have established that you have the right link, simply check your email for the host’s link, and click on it.  You may want to do this at least 15 minutes beforehand, to make sure that your audio and video work.

Skip to the next page.


Congratulations, you are now inside the Google Hangout!  

On the first screen, click the checkbox and “Okay, got it.”

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.  You can do so by adding their email addresses, or by sending them the invite link.

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 the moderator has enabled this feature. To see participants’ questions or comments, click on the Q&A Button.

Once the moderator starts the broadcast, wait for the top “Off Air” button to say “Live.”  Everything you say from that point will be recorded, until the moderator stops the broadcast.

Once the moderator has stopped the broadcast, you will no longer be recording.  On the top of the screen where it says, “Live,” the message will switch to “Off Air.”  You can then hang up and close the window.

For further viewing, please watch this video.