These days, most everyone is working remotely and is finding the best ways to connect with each other online through email, chat and video-conferencing. Have you found a way that works for you? If not, keep reading.
As we announced the other day, Google Cloud is offering a six-month, no-charge trial period for its Google Meet Enterprise Suite. The offer is designed to give organizations a chance to see what Meet, a vital part of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) can do for them in today’s work-from-anywhere environment.
If you haven’t tried Meet, it means it’s the perfect time to learn more about using this chat and videoconferencing technology during a remote work day. In the meantime, here’s a look at what it takes to get up and running and hold a successful Meet session.
How to Get Started Using Google Meet
In a previous post, we covered all the basics of why you should use Google Meet.
Now, let’s go into more detail on how to use this collaboration tool to stay in the know and connected from any device, no matter where you work. This recorded tutorial, led by our expert Google Workspace Trainers, will get you up to speed.
We’ve also provided this handy guide to all of the features of the Google Meet to show why it’s ideal for any remote work day, from helping you figure out how to effectively manage a remote team to keeping in touch with key customers and connecting each day with trusted colleagues.
All about Google Chat
Starting a Google Chat is easy in Google Workspace. Use this tool to instantly connect and communicate with one or more participants.
1. Set up - Start by opening your Gmail account. Scroll down to the chat feature in the lower left of your screen. In the setting menu, choose the location of your chat window. Have it appear on the standard left side or move it to the right side of your window.
2. Starting a chat - In the chatbox, press the plus button and select the name of the person you want to chat with. From here, type in your message.
3. Creating a group chat - Sometimes you might need to chat with more than one person at the same time. In the existing chat window, use the group chat button and then begin typing that person's name, select it and that adds them to the chat.
Turn Chat Notifications On or Off
What if you want to change your chat notifications? Maybe you need to focus on a project and don’t want to be disturbed. Turn them on or off by using the gear at the top of the chatbox. Choose if you want new messages to pop out and make a sound or decide to turn them off. They will continue to pile up in the chat but you won’t be notified.
Find Your Chat History
Your chat conversations are collected and saved in the left panel of your Gmail window. Find them near under ‘Compose’ by clicking on ‘more’ to reveal additional labels, including one named Chat. Here you can see all of your messages archived for easy retrieval.
If you’ve created and named a group chat, you will see it here. Now that the chat has a name, you can search for it in your inbox like you would an email. You can also search for it when you open the chatbox, click the plus sign and search for the name.
Another way you can add someone to an existing chat is by clicking on the gear and then selecting join by link. This sharable link allows someone else to join the chat. They will see the chat’s history so they can catch up on what they’ve missed.
When you are finished with that chat, you can delete it and it will go into the trash. If there is someone who no longer needs to be in the chat, click on the group icon where you’ll be given an option to remove them, and they will no longer see the chat.
Google Chat versus Google Meet
Background on these Tools
In the early days of Google Workspace, all two-person communication tools were known as Hangouts. If you chatted with someone, that was a Hangout. If you videoconferenced with someone, that was also a Hangout. At some point, Google decided to split them up to distinguish between personal and business accounts.
Which One Does What?
Hangouts is still used as the term for chatting with people via your keyboard or video calls you make from a chat in the free, consumer version of Gmail.com. It doesn’t have all the functionality that’s in a business account. There is no call-in number if you are using a phone. You also aren’t able to record your video chat.
If you’re using Gmail on your personal computer at home and launch a video chat with a friend, you’re using a Hangout. But, we’re not going to focus on the consumer product in this blog. I’m sharing this as an FYI.
Instead, today, we’re going to dive into what makes Google Meet work.
Launching Google Meet from Google Workspace
Making a Video Call from Hangouts in Chat
- Start a call
Initiating a call is easy. In your existing chat, simply click on the video camera icon. This automatically turns on your camera and calls the person or participants in your chat.
- Alert people
The chat will make a beeping sound on the other end to alert them that a video call is coming in.
- Communicating with participants
Once the other person(s) accepts the call then you will be able to see and hear them.
How to Arrange a Meet in Google Calendar
- Click on a calendar invite details screen to add conferencing if you are the one creating the meeting; a dial-in number will appear after you save.
- Click on the Meet link provided, or dial-in by the number provided in a calendar invite.
- Right-click on a calendar invite and choose Join Meeting.
- Navigate to meet.google.com and choose Join or start a meeting; give it a name and now you are in a blank call, not associated with a particular set of contacts, time or date.
How to Hold a Successful Google Meet Video Call
Whoever is on the video call will appear in tiles along the side of your screen (up to 4) and in the participant list. If you click on one it will put the focus on that person and then you can click back to yourself to return to show your screen. When someone speaks, Meet will automatically feature them in the main window.
If you turn off your camera, the other participants will simply see your profile picture. This might be a necessity if you are having bandwidth issues with your internet connection. Turning off your camera may help.
Diving into the Meet User Interface
At the top of the window, there is a web URL that you can use to share the Hangout with other people. To do so, simply drop the link in a chat or email. This will allow them to join the Hangout without having to click on the video camera icon in chat. Unless Google tools are blocked for them, they can join. They don’t even need a Gmail account.
Just below that and to the right, you can click the people icon to add participants. When the pop-out window opens, start typing a name or email address and select the person you would like to add to the Hangout and then select send an invite.
Audio and Video Set-Up
When someone says they can’t hear, you can check your audio and video through the 3-dot menu at the bottom right, choosing settings and testing your system.
If you use headphones, keep them connected to your computer as it’s easier than switching back and forth between them and your computer's speakers. Using headphones will reduce audio echo, so if you’re on video calls most of the time, keeping them plugged in will help.
Checking Your Bandwidth
If you notice that you have a slow connection, there might be several culprits causing the slowdown. It’s likely an audio or video streaming service in the background. A video conferencing tool, like Google Meet, uses both upload and download speed. When someone speaks or sends you something it is using download speed but when you talk it takes upload speed to transmit it.
That’s a lot of bandwidth, so if you are also streaming a music or video site — even a social media platform like Facebook, it can reduce your speed and cause your video to lag. By closing those open windows, you should get back up to speed!
Sharing Your Screen
There are times when you will want to share your screens with the participants on a video call. Maybe you need to show them a web page or Google Doc. In the lower right-hand corner, you’ll see an option to present your screen. Click on this and choose between your screen or a window. You might have two screens, so you’ll need to choose which one to share.
Hanging Up When You’re Done!
Once you have finished your Hangout, you can easily hang up. Select the red telephone icon at the bottom of your screen to end your session or simply exit the window. You don’t want to risk keeping the audio or video running, especially if you are using this version for work.
Set up a Meet Video Conference
When Google separated Hangouts into Meet and Chat at the enterprise level, Meet became synonymous with a video conference. With Meet, you can schedule a meeting through Google Calendar, share the link or even provide a phone number to connect.
1. Creating a Calendar Invite
In Google calendar select a time. Once you click on it, a pop-up will open. Choose to add conferencing and then Hangouts Meet to make the button appear. It doesn’t immediately give you a phone number. You must save the event first and then go back in to retrieve the dial-in number.
2. Joining a Call
Everyone who receives the invite can join a Meet since there is a web link and phone number that can be shared. For example, even if I set up the meeting, I don’t have to be present for my colleagues to join. This also allows for people outside of your enterprise domain to participate — as long as they have the link or call-in number and as long as their domain allows them to access Google tools. When they join the Meet, you will have to approve their access.
3. Preparing for the Call
Before the Meet begins, if your camera is on, you will have the opportunity to see yourself on screen as you will appear to your colleagues. This is your chance to check your appearance and background. You can turn your camera off if you don’t like what you see. Only your profile picture will be visible now.
Muting yourself is also an option here. If you use different video conferencing tools throughout the day, you may want to double-check your audio. You also have the option to use your phone when dialing in and this may provide better audio.
A final option to consider before joining the Meet is turning on the closed captions. This is not only useful if you are hearing impaired but also if you are working from a loud cafe and the background noise is distracting. This feature allows you to read along with the Meet.
4. Dialing In
Using a dial-in number is another way for participants to join a meeting. You can copy the number in the calendar invite and share it. Click on the meeting details on the lower left side of your screen to access this. This pop-up screen also gives you access to any attachments that you might need to review during the meeting.
5. Adding Someone In
What if you need to add someone into the meeting once it has already started? Click on the people icon in the upper right of your screen. This will open a box with the option to add people. By selecting this, you can choose from calling someone or inviting them by their name or email address.
A Look at Other Google Meet Features
There are a few different ways to organize your screen to see participants. This only works when you have more than one. In the 3-dot menu on the bottom of your screen, choose ‘change layout.’ Another pop-up will appear with several options.
The sidebar will show the person speaking and then the other participants stacked up on the side. With a tiled layout, the participants will appear horizontally and vertically. Finally, in the spotlight view, there will only be one speaker shown at a time.
In Meet, you have the option to add short messages. This is helpful if you have a lot of people in a meeting, and someone is presenting. It allows participants to ask questions. You can even share web links but not images or attachments. To do share those, you would need to share the Google Drive links instead.
Presenting Your Screen
Need to show your team a specific webpage or document? You can easily do so in Meet. By clicking on ‘present now’ in the lower right of your screen, you would then select ‘your entire screen’ or ‘a window.’
If you choose to share your entire screen then anything that you pull into there will be viewed by everyone in the meeting. Sharing your window will fixate only on that even if you move it to another screen.
How to Look Like a Pro on Google Meet
Checking Your Appearance
Set up a blank meeting to check yourself and your background out. You can do this by visiting meet.google.com. There you will find a listing of all your scheduled Google Meets, but you’ll also have the option to join or start a meeting.
Click this to create an empty room. Here you can adjust the camera or lighting and get a better sense of whether your background looks too cluttered or you're showing something you don’t want customers or colleagues to see.
Choosing Your Camera Placement
When you use Meet in a professional setting, you’ll want to make sure that you look your best. Often this might mean adjusting the location of your camera. By placing it at a higher level, you will ensure that you create the proper professional image. This may require putting your laptop or monitor on a raised platform. You can also achieve this using a stack of books or a box.
1 Speak to the camera.
Now that your camera is elevated, you can speak directly to it. This will make it easier for your team or customers to properly see you and give you a bit of confidence.
2 Don’t look down.
Remember to treat this as any other in-person business meeting. Try not to look down when you are talking. Most people want to see you, not the top of your head!
3 Avoid weird angles.
Finally, be mindful of awkward angles. They can happen to anyone. Have you ever been on a video meeting, where you only saw the side of someone’s face? Don’t be that person.
As more and more of us work remotely, learning more about this tool and all of its benefits will make you feel a little more comfortable — and maybe even confident — in video meetings.
Remember that they aren’t all that different from the regular meetings you have in-person when you worked in an office and saw your colleagues daily. Same people. Same topics. Just a different (but highly effective) way to meet.
Ready to get started using Google Meet? We’re happy to talk with you more about how to get up and running with a better way for your teams to meet.