Getting started with Google Hangouts
This guide helps charities get set up to make Google Hangout calls. Connect with a team, service users or partners.
About Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a tool to run online video calls or chats with up to 10 colleagues and friends, all from a distance. The set up is quite quick, and your guests don’t need to have a Google account to join your meeting.
Steps to get set up
Step 1 —Head to Google Hangouts
Head over to Google Hangouts.
If you already use Gmail, you can log in by clicking on the ‘Sign In’ button at the top right of your screen.
If you don’t already have a Google account you’ll need to create one to set up a Google Hangout. Click on the ‘Sign In’ button and a new screen will pop up — click on ‘Create account’ and follow the instructions.
Step 2 — Start setting up a call
Once you’re logged in, you can start setting up your call. Click on the green ‘+’ button on the top left of your screen.
Step 3— Find friends
Search for your colleagues or friends by email address. If they are already contacts in your Google account they will appear in the search. (Sometimes a person doesn’t show up until you’ve entered their full email address.)
Once you’ve found your contact, click on their name and a pop up will appear with a ‘Send invite’ button. They need to accept your invitation, then you’re ready to meet online.
Steps to hosting a meeting
Step 1— Start a video call
Click on the Video Call icon to start a call.
Then click on ‘Join or start a meeting’. On the next page, you’ll be asked to set a nickname for your video call or leave it blank — feel free to just leave blank.
You’ll be taken to the actual video call page, where you’ll see your meeting details to the right of the screen. Send these to your attendees so they can join online, using the link; or on their phone using the dial-in number and the PIN. (Once you’ve started the call, you can also add people by email address).
Click ‘Join now’ — and you’re on your call.
Hangouts will ask for you to agree to giving access to your microphone and camera when you start your call. There’s some handy video and audio troubleshooting tips if you’re having problems.
You can invite people by email once you’re in the call.
Step 2 — Sharing your screen or presenting
If you want to share something on your screen with your attendees, click on the ‘Present Now’ button. You can choose to present your entire screen, or a specific window.
Steps to joining a meeting
Step 1 — Joining Google Hangouts on your computer
You should receive a link from the meeting host. Click on the link and it will take you to the Google Hangout ‘meeting room’. Click on ‘Join’ to start taking part in the call.
Remember that you might be the first person there, so if you’re all alone in the meeting room it’s worth waiting a couple of minutes to allow for everyone to arrive.
Once you’re in the call you can add other people but clicking on the ‘Invite People’ button. You can also turn off your video and audio, if you need.
Step 2— Joining Google Hangouts on your phone
If your data connection isn’t great, you can join a Google Hangout by dialling a number on your phone. The meeting host will need to share the specific number and PIN with you, so you can just dial in as if it were a normal phone call.
Related links and guides
- NCVO’s How to have a Google Hangouts meeting (article)
- Google Hangouts video and audio troubleshooting tips (article)
- Practical Guide to Remote Meetings (PDF)
- How to stay connected while working remotely (blog post)
- Tools for remote working (Google Sheet)
- Get help with Skype or remote working from a volunteer digital expert