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Help Desk Hangouts: Learn how your business can use Hangouts to engage and collaborate

Editor’s note: Each week on the Google+ Your Business page, we’re putting you in touch with Googlers and users who can help you as a business owner get the most out of our products and features.

In our latest Help Desk Hangout On Air, we discussed Google+ Hangouts — a topic many of you wanted to know more about (how to get started, ideas for what to cover in your Hangouts, and so on). With special guests Teresa Wu of the Google Docs team, and Hangouts power users Seth David and Tom Rolfson, we talked about how you can use Hangouts to engage customers and collaborate with your teammates. If you missed it, you can watch the full hour-long Hangout on the Google Business YouTube channel (really great tips!):

We collected questions via the Google+ Your Business page and tried to answer as many as we could in the Hangout. Here are a few of the questions we addressed:

Yifat: If a business page doesn’t have many followers and they open a public Hangout, where does it appear and can anyone join (even people who haven’t circled them yet)?

A notification to join the Hangout appears only to those who have added the page to their circles (they’ll see it in the Stream), but anyone with the link can join the Hangout.

Thorben: Are you still planning on making Hangouts On Air available for everybody?

We’re definitely still hoping to make this more widely accessible. Thanks for being patient!

Nadra: I’m looking forward to using Hangouts for event promotion. I’m curious about the different nuances of launching Hangouts before, during and after an event.

Hangouts are a great way to give others insight into an event, especially during the live show (be sure test the sound quality ahead of time to make sure everything’s a-OK). Before an event, you could use the Hangout to start building interest by giving sneak previews to guests, and after the event, use a Hangout to recap the highlights and showcase follow-up interviews.

Eric: How can we embed Hangout info on our website? And help people to pre-register? Can we stream the live Hangout to another web property like our web site?

Embedding a Hangout and streaming on your own web property aren’t possible at the moment, but it’s a common feature request that we get from users and one the team is aware of. As for pre-registering, you can ask the followers of your page to leave a comment if they’d like to be invited to attend, or create a Google form to collect the names of participants.

Barbara: I’ve been using Hangouts quite a bit but even in smaller groups we’ve struggled with disturbing noise interferences we couldn’t really explain. How can we overcome such seemingly mundane but important difficulties?

Make sure you have a dedicated quiet room for participants in the Hangout. Use microphones and headphones to improve sound and audio quality, and ask participants that when not speaking, hit the “Mute” button at the top right of the Hangout screen.

To learn more about how to get started with Google+ Hangouts, visit our Help Center. And remember to tune in to the live stream of our next Hangout at 11 a.m. PDT Wednesday March 28, as we discuss how you can help the right customers find your business with AdWords. We’ll be collecting your AdWords questions early next week on the Google+ Your Business page.

Posted by Vanessa Schneider, Google Places community manager

Google Small Business