Getting started with Google Hangouts

Published on
March 17, 2020
How Tos
Tori Ellaway
This guide helps charities get set up to make Google Hangout calls. Connect with a team, service users or partners.
Header graphic stating 'Getting started with Google Hangouts'

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.

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Google Hangouts homepage with Sign In option at top right

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.

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Google Sign In page

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.

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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.)

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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.

The three different options for talking to colleagues or friends

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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.

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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.

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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 too, once you’ve started the call

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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.

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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.

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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

About this guide

This guide has been contributed to Catalyst. It was created by CAST in partnership with Small Charities Coalition.

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