Stay Tuned Google+ Hangout manual
  • Stay Tuned Google+ Hangout manual
    A manual developed for Stay Tuned, a joint project of RJI and the Nine Network of St. Louis (KETC-TV), to guide the use of Google + Hangouts for television news and public affairs.

You’ve seen the video here explaining the concept of Stay Tuned and RJI’s experiment in creating a social media ‘buzz’ around big community issues. As promised, here is a ‘manual’ you can use to develop your own Google + Hangouts for television news and public affairs.

A key element of our Stay Tuned public affairs program (collaborative project between the Reynolds Journalism Institute and the Nine Network of St. Louis (KETC-TV) is the Google + Hangout.

This technology allows an anchor or host to ‘convene’ several experts, citizens or journalists (etc.) into a live and spontaneous discussion. All participants can see and hear each other so that the convened conversation can be quite robust (if the participants will be quick to insert their ideas).

But preparing those participants for the live Hangout is tricky … So many technological aspects, often with novices at Internet applications.

(Of course, if the television/radio station, newspaper or website convenes the same people for each program, then preparation is one-time-only. But some weeks, Stay Tuned will utilize three Hangouts with three guests each, all of them new to Google + Hangout. That’s a lot of potential novices to train and trouble-shoot.)

Below is our ‘Manual’ which we use verbally to prepare participants each week, and also email to the participants so each can review.

This ‘manual’ is designed for use by Google + Hangout producers — the media people who bite their fingernails nervously until the last Hangout is done.

Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangout Instruction Manual

To Get Started:

1. Create a Google Gmail account. (free)

You must have Google Plus (or Google+) account to participate on a Google Hangout.

To register for a Gmail account visit

2. Create a Google+ account.  (also free)

Everyone who has a Gmail [email] account has Google+; however, you may have to upgrade your Gmail account if you have never logged into your Google+ screen.  Visit and sign-up using your Gmail account and/or upgrade if necessary.

3. Install the Google Video plugin.

Do that by visiting this link:

(Process varies by operating system. Find installation help here.)

Participate in a Google Hangout:

To join a Google Hangout you must meet the following criteria:

  1. You must have access to a computer and a webcam.
  2. Your Internet connection must be excellent.
    • Use a direct Ethernet cable connection to participate in the Hangout. This will cut down on the risk of audio and video dropping out during the Hangout. If you’re unable to connect your computer to your router directly using an Ethernet cable, try to move your computer as close as you can to your wireless router to ensure the best possible reception during the Hangout.
  3. Your lighting must look natural and pleasing to the eyes.
    • Hangouts work best in a well-lit environment.
    • Avoid lights from ceiling fans as they typically cause a flicker effect.
    • Set up a light source behind the laptop or computer, and face the light so that it shines on your face.
    • Never have a light source (including sunlight) behind you when on a Google Hangout.
  4. Your Audio must be controlled.
    • For the best audio, broadcast in a quiet, controlled environment. (No TV audio, no barking dogs, no music, no shuffling papers.)
    • Always wear headphones during your Google Hangout. This avoids feedback from your speakers back into your microphone. Most people have small ear buds, or can purchase them from Walgreens or CVS for under $10.
    • Turn off anything that might automatically turn on during your Hangout. Home air-conditioners, central air, fax machines, cell phones, office phones, alarms, and intercoms.
    • Double-check that there’s nothing blocking your microphone.

System Requirements for Hangouts:

Supported Web Browsers: (Need one)

  • Google Chrome 10+
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 8+
  • Firefox 3+
  • Safari 4+

Supported Operating systems: (Need one)

  • Mac OS X 10.5+
  • Hangouts work with Windows 8 as long as the computer is in "desktop mode."
  • Windows 7
  • Windows Vista with SP1 or later
  • Windows XP
  • Chrome
  • Ubuntu and other Debian based Linux distributions

To Join a Hangout:

  1. Go to
  2. Sign in using your Gmail username and password.
  3. In the top right corner of the Google+ home screen you will see the account name. Next to the account name, a red box will appear. Click on the red box.
  4. You will see a message that says “(Someone) has invited you to a Hangout.”
  5. Click “Join Hangout.”
  6. The Hangout will automatically open. You will see your own image, and the images of the other participants in the Hangout.

Additional Best Practices:

  • Do not type while you are in the Hangout; it is very loud and makes it difficult to hear what participants are saying.
  • Keep your cellphone on “silent,” but have it close by in case a producer needs to contact you.
  • Participate in a practice Hangout prior to the live Hangout. This will allow you to meet the other Hangout participants, speak with the host, and discuss the show’s topic and what to expect.
  • During your practice Hangout, a producer will tell you the precise time your live Hangout will take place.
  • Please have Google+ open on your computer, and be ready to join the Hangout during the time designated by the producer.

Kent Collins  
University fellow


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