As part of our MHCLG funded project we are committed to being open and transparent about the work we are doing. We also have a team of people that are very spread out geographically. This meant that when considering how we could run a Show & Tell for each of the fortnightly sprints, we had to get creative and embrace technology.
Thankfully we had been engaged with the Department for Transport project to develop a new national system for Blue Badges. They had streamed their Show & Tells on YouTube. We were impressed that by streaming it on YouTube, people could watch live, join part-way through and rewind back to the beginning, or even watch the recording at a later date or time.
That would work well for broadcasting, but we also wanted to be able to include contributions from all of our partners, as we at North East Lincolnshire are not doing this work by ourselves. It’s a real team effort. After a bit of research and asking around, we found that Google Hangouts on Air worked with YouTube Live streaming to broadcast a video conference.
YouTube & Hangouts
I found a useful help article about it, which led me to the YouTube Live events site. You need an account to use YouTube. We are not a Council that usually uses Google, so I had to create a Google account for the team. As YouTube is part of Google, this also gives us a YouTube account.
Before we could create our first live event, YouTube does some validation, which can take 24 hours. After that was complete we carried out some tests. When you create a new event you have the option to go live straight away or schedule a future event. You need to provide a title and select whether you want it publicly listed on YouTube, unlisted (meaning anyone who has the link can view it), or private (meaning you control who can view it based on email address). We went with Unlisted for the live streams, then after review made them Public.
To run the live stream using your webcam and Google Hangouts on Air, select “Quick” as the Type. Click “Go live now” to start the Hangout, or if it’s scheduled click “Start Hangout on Air” in the event listing.
When it launches, you get a familiar (to those who’ve used it before) Hangouts screen. You can get the Hangout link to invite people to join in by clicking the little person icon with a “+”, at the top of the Hangout screen.
After a few seconds, the green “Start broadcast” button appears at the bottom.
We found it useful on our Show & Tells to wait until everyone from the GOV.UK Pay team and our partner councils had joined the Hangout and we’d had chance to say hi and cover any last minute details, before clicking the green button.
Clicking the “Start broadcast” button starts broadcasting the Hangout live on YouTube.
The first time we tried a real, live Show & Tell we started with the meeting room webcam showing the room while we and the various Hangout members shown in their little boxes did introductions, until the slide deck was presented. I think the video broadcast struggled a bit running on my laptop and using the USB webcam (Logitech BCC950), but once the slide deck took up the screen I think the sound quality improved a bit. It also had the added benefit of hiding our shy faces from the internet!
We presented a slide deck using the Share screen feature of Google Hangouts, selecting another window on my laptop that was running Google Slides.
Here are the Show & Tells we streamed live in this way, so far:
- GOV.UK Pay for Local Government Show & Tell 1
- GOV.UK Pay for Local Government Show & Tell 2
- GOV.UK Pay for Local Government Show & Tell 3
We can’t pretend to be experts in streaming over YouTube, so each Show & Tell is a learning experience. It doesn’t always feel like it’s running smoothly and it can be a little nerve-wracking, to say the least. Show & Tells don’t need to be perfect though. The important thing is being open and transparent about the work we are doing. There are a few tips we can pass on though, if you’re thinking of having a go.
- The YouTube link is permanent on a scheduled live event, but the Hangout on Air link isn’t. This meant we couldn’t send the link out to partners until just before the Show & Tell.*
- Whether your event is scheduled or you jump straight into a new one, until you click the “Start broadcast” button, you can close your Hangout and start again without having to create a new live event. Once you’ve started the broadcast and finished, the YouTube link that you might have promoted on Twitter will only ever point to the stream you cancelled and you have to create an entirely new event.
- If like us, you are a bit shy about streaming live video of your faces, you might choose to start any slide deck on Hangouts before you click the “Start broadcast” button. Make sure you are familiar with the presentation settings first though, to avoid Hangouts switching to show a member of your remote team who made a sound!
*If anyone knows a better way, please let us know!
It’s been good seeing other project teams working on Local Digital Fund projects streaming their Show & Tells too, including other members of the NELC Service Design team (Visualising Waste Data) and Gateshead Council (Taxi Licensing). Join us!