Google+ is a great platform on which communities and individuals can come together to collaborate, share ideas, and promote various projects. While the site itself can certainly do with some improvement, some attention should be directed towards one of its biggest assets: hangouts.
Inside a Google+ hangout, you and up to nine other people have the ability to sit in a virtual conference room, each with a camera or screenshare available to them with which to share whatever visual media they’d like to.
In a typical hangout, some users are on webcam, others sharing their screens (or specific windows of the screen), and others still prefer to stick with just using audio.
Here are ten interesting things you can do inside a Google+ hangout.
Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Cyberpunk 2020, and many other role-playing games certainly benefit from every member being present, but with Google+, not everyone has to be in the same room. You can see the facial expressions and die-rolls of the rest of your team as they respond to changes in the story and attempt to ward off whatever impending doom is beset upon them.
In modern days, finding other players isn’t always easy. So many would-be adventurers are opting for MMORPGs and other graphically enhanced games. Google+ helps you extend your reach beyond the local gaming scene so you can join a game hosted virtually anywhere in the world.
Exercising is easier in groups for many people, but not everyone has the time or local support to join a workout group in their immediate area. With Google+ hangouts, you can work out with friends from across the globe, and help people in your group that may have a hard time understanding a particular exercise.
This is one added advantage to interactive chat that you won’t find on a workout DVD. Without leaving your living room, you can have that gym experience with a group.
Kat Shaw, a member of the Gnomies community, recommended Google+ hangouts for hosting dance classes. As with working out, you rarely achieve the skill or quality of your routine through a passive DVD or YouTube video. Being able to receive instruction and ask questions in a real-time face-to-face environment is incredible.
This allows remote instructors to continue lessons even though they may be out of town on business, or otherwise unable to host something in a physical space.
After seeing just how much communication platforms like Second Life have helped independent musicians find and be discovered by fans around the world, it’s only natural that Google+ hangouts be used for similar reasons.
Let’s say you’re an independent musician and you’re looking for a way to gain a few fans. You could travel from club to club, performing in front of anywhere from 10-30 people in many cases or host a Google+ concert where you can interact directly with the audience, share stories of how your songs came about, and share a more personal connection with everyone in attendance. Google+ Hangouts On Air allows you to take this even further.
LEGO Set Building
Chris Pirillo, LockerGnome’s founder and an avid LEGO enthusiast, regularly hosts LEGO build hangouts where he and other members of the community can come together and discuss LEGO, the topics of the day, or take part in building their own sets alongside folks with similar interests.
Building a particular large LEGO set takes time, and it can be a little on the quiet side if you’re doing it solo. Turn it into a group activity and carry on a conversation with your friends and/or family while doing so.
Virtual offices are all the rage among remote working environments. While Google+ may not collect your mail for you or give you a physical conference room, it can serve as a virtual coworking space for you and your coworkers. I spend a great deal of my day in a hangout while writing, which allows me and others I work with to collaborate on article ideas and other business interests.
This is also a great platform for meetings between members of different companies. Throwing up a quick hangout in the office can save your company a lot of time and money traveling around the globe to meet with clients. How many thousands of dollars are spent every year shipping the average professional back and forth between clients? A Google+ hangout can cut those costs down dramatically, as long as the client is willing to forego face-to-face meetings with camera-to-camera ones.
It would be difficult for me to list all the crazy things people can do in Google+ hangouts, so this particular suggestions sits in place of all the bodily functions, truth-or-dare, and strip card games out there. Yes, adults use Google+ too.
While this may not be the most productive way to put this technology to use, it is one way the technology is being used. Just don’t be surprised if someone films your crazy antics and throws it up on a video sharing site.
YouTube Viewing Parties
The integrated YouTube app allows people in a hangout to watch the same YouTube video simultaneously. It’s a great way to premiere your latest video project or simply have a funny video night with friends chilling in their own living rooms.
I’ve used hangouts to facilitate a viewing and feedback session for project I’ve worked on, and it works very well for this purpose. You may also, using private or unlisted privacy settings, use this feature to share a demonstration with a client.
Do you sell Tupperware, Avon, or some other affiliate product? Depending on the terms and conditions of the service you sell through, you might find Google+ hangouts to be one of the best avenues for demonstrating a product for a small group of folks. Who knows, you might get sales out of the experience without ever having to do any of those typical hosting things you normally would by hosting the parties out of your home.
Even if you are, allowing folks that can’t make the trip out to your home to take part via a hangout is just good business.
News organizations around the world are beginning to see the potential in Google+ hangouts. I know several people who have taken part in local news station’s panels on various topics, and all this without having to drive to a studio or sacrifice your own comfort to do so. Google+ hangouts are a great way to conduct face-to-face interviews with people when you can’t meet up in person.
I would consider conducting employment interviews over hangouts in a heartbeat. You still have the benefit of learning from their facial expressions and general body language how they respond to certain questions or topics, and you also don’t have to go through the hassle of setting up the office and alerting everyone to be on their best because applicants are coming in.
I’m a firm believe in that if the job requires the worker to work remotely, the interview should be allowed to take place remotely. That’s the only way I’ve been able to work with folks from around the globe. Otherwise, we’d be limited to local talent.