How to schedule On Air Events and set up Google Hangouts On Air

A few people have, believe it or not, asked for our procedure for setting up virtual conferences like FtBConscience 2. I figure it’s a good idea to go ahead and post the document that I’d passed around behind the scenes, so others can benefit from our, heh, “wisdom”. I’ve scrubbed out the FtB-specific stuff.

As of January 2014, the procedures for creating a live Google Hangout On Air have changed, in some ways quite drastically. Please read this thoroughly and attempt this at least once, all the way through, as a dry run before your con!

Remember, you will need all your facilitators to perform all of thee actions. This can’t be done in advance by a single person, because each panel will have to be run by the person who went through this procedure. It’s best to appoint at least 3 facilitators per concurrent “line” of panels that you’d like to run. You can sometimes do with less if you’re strict on end times, though.


A Google+ Account (obtain one here: )

A Youtube account (MUST BE LINKED TO G+ ACCOUNT, see below)

A telephone (land line for phone call verification or cell phone for text message verification)

(Optional) A 300x1200px banner for your event

To set up your Google+ Account linked to Youtube:

Google has a tutorial here:

But the short form of this tutorial is:

  1. Click this while signed into Google to create a Youtube channel:

  2. You can also associate your existing Youtube account with your Google+ account from that same link. If you have multiple now, use to switch between them.

  3. If you haven’t already, VERIFY your Google account. Go to and click Enable next to “Longer Video” – “upload video longer than 15 mins”. At this point, it will prompt you to either choose to receive a voice call from an automated system, or get a text message with a verification code. Pick one, enter your phone number, and follow the prompts and you’re verified in no time.

  4. Once you’re certain the account from which you do your Hangouts has a Youtube account attached to it, TRY BUILDING A HANGOUT ON AIR. This way you’ll be sure you’ve set up your account linking correctly! If you haven’t, you may need to create a NEW Youtube account associated with your Google+ account instead of your usual Youtube account. This was the case for me, so it could happen to you too.

Creating a hangout as a dry run:

  1. Go to . Click on the Schedule a Hangout On Air button.

  2. The Name field: enter a temporary name.

  3. The “tell people what it’s about” field: empty

  4. The Starts field: choose Now.

  5. The Audience field: choose to share with only the people you’re testing with.

  6. This brings you to the Event Page. It’s not quite as full-featured as a real Google Planned Event (you can’t set a banner or schedule it in advance so people can add to their calendars!), but it will do for the dry run. Click on Start.

  7. Invite the user you’re testing with. Do sound-checks and video checks with them to make sure you can see and hear them clearly. If there are any problems, you may have to have them edit their sound/video setup. This is where things get complicated and difficult to document, and someone with experience might be best on hand.

Setting up a Scheduled Event (for the panels!):


  2. Go to and click Plan a Hangout. Remember, this is effectively a Reminder, a Calendar entry, an Invitation. It is NOT the hangout itself!

  3. Click on Change Theme, click on Upload, and upload the banner that you’d created earlier.

  4. Under Event Title, enter “Conference Name: The Panel Title”. Please try to use the same format everywhere for consistency in search results!

  5. Under Event Options, UNCHECK “guests can invite other people” and “guests can upload photos”

  6. Set a start and end time. Make sure to use the GMT -6 Central – Chicago time zone — we’re scheduling everything on the spreadsheet in CST.

  7. Under Details, paste in the full description of the panel and panelists’ names.

  8. Under To:, select your Circle with the participants, but also select Public — this event is open to the public, but the hangout itself will be limited to the people you invite in the next step.

  9. THIS BRINGS YOU TO THE GOOGLE+ EVENT PAGE. This is what you’ll be sharing with us once you’ve created and scheduled all your Hangouts On Air events, and what we’ll be pointing people to on the Lanyrd page and our blog posts. Copy the URL and keep it somewhere safe!

  10. Double-check all your parameters over on the right. If you need to edit it, look under Details, in the top right of that box is a down arrow. Click that then click Edit Event.

  11. When you’re ready to start pulling participants in you need to create the real Hangout On Air. The procedure is similar to the Dry Run but with some subtle nuances.

Setting up the Real Deal Hangout On Air

  1. You should also do this in advance if possible. You can create multiple Hangouts then, at event time, go to the hangout page and click Start to invite and do pre-show checks. Google will only start the actual broadcast once you, the facilitator, hit Start Broadcast, and will no longer broadcast (or record) after you hit End Broadcast.

  2. Go to your Event Page. Click on Details > drop down arrow > Edit Event. Click on Event Options, then click on Advanced, and check “Show More Options.” Keep this tab open here.

  3. In another tab, go here: Click on Schedule a Hangout On Air. Schedule it to start Later. Set the Title to the same as the Hangout — “Con Name: The Panel Title”. Set the Description to the same as you set up in the Event. Later, these will become the Title and Description of the Youtube video.

  4. Under Audience, choose Public (should be automatically selected).

  5. Click Share. This now becomes a pre-event placeholder Youtube video. It should take you to the Hangout page.

  6. To get the Youtube link you need, when you’re ready to start up the broadcast a few minutes early, you have to click the Start button within the frame. This starts your Hangout.

  7. Invite the people who are supposed to join this hangout again (this is why you set the circle up earlier!).

  8. Go back to the Hangout page and the video window should have a Play button and a Preview button. Click on either, and this will allow you (and only you) to see the live stream before it’s broadcasting to everyone else.

  9. Mouse-hover over the video to show the title. Click on that title, or click on the Youtube logo in the bottom right, to get to the actual Youtube URL. Copy the URL out of the address bar.

  10. Go back to the Event Page tab where the options should still be open for you. Paste the Youtube link into the Youtube URL field, then Save the event.

  11. Your event page should now have the appropriate video stream associated with it for viewers, and you should be able to go back to your hangout and once everyone’s in and ready to go, click Start Broadcast at the bottom.

  12. When you’re starting the broadcast, please say something along the lines of “Welcome to Organization Name’s Virtual Conference. The time is 8pm Central, and you’re watching the Awesome Panel of Awesomeness. To participate in live Q&A, {explain how you plan on taking Q&A}. ”

  13. You’re live now! Go wow ‘em!

  14. End the broadcast via the End Broadcast button when you’re done. It will become available on Youtube as soon as it’s done processing.

Some Notes about Apps:

The Chat application can be used for passing messages back and forth between participants and is not visible to viewers. Use this to send cues to people or Q&A if you have a solo talk scheduled.

The Youtube app DOES NOT work with Hangouts On Air. Unfortunately, if you plan on playing a Youtube video, you have to share your desktop via the Share Desktop app, and play the video directly on your computer in fullscreen mode. IF YOU DO THIS, TEST THE VOLUME FIRST. Chances are, you’ve got your earbuds in for the call, and that means the microphone will not pick up the sound from your own speakers. As far as I can tell at the moment, the only way to play Youtube videos with sound is to play the sound out loud, and have your microphone pick it up.

You can use the Google Drive app to play an uploaded Powerpoint, but remember that Google will interpret Powerpoint format differently based on a million variables so TEST THIS before going live so you’re not stymied by font size differences, cut off text, etc! Really, this goes for any fancy gimmicks you plan on including in your panels — test them before going live so we’re not forced to watch technical snafus.

You can now configure Lower Third to auto-load every startup! Play with this when you’re doing your dry run and get it configured to your liking. Make sure to click on the Hangout toolbox on the left (if it’s not there, click the “…” icon and choose to Add it), then click the Gear at the top of the right column, then turn Enable Auto-load to On, Mute Notifications to On, and Auto Load Last Used Lower to On.

How to schedule On Air Events and set up Google Hangouts On Air
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2 thoughts on “How to schedule On Air Events and set up Google Hangouts On Air

  1. 1

    Hi Jason, do you know if I can either copy my existing google hangout on air or create a series of same?
    I am doing a recurring event, once a month via ghoa, and would like to just copy the event, change a bit of stuff, and go from their vs. having to set up a new event each month.
    thanks for any insight.

  2. 2

    Thanks for the post.

    Google seems to change what they do so often, it makes it hard to create “How Tos”.

    Can you help me figure something out…. When I create an event, and choose “online hangout”, it creates a reserved hangout that reminds my invitees when the event comes. The problem is that the reserved hangout link is not one that can be broadcast on air.

    I’m thinking to just schedule an on air hangout (instead of an event), and right before the on air hangout (30 min or so), start the hangout without broadcasting, and at that point invite the panel to the hangout. In other words, if it’s going to be an on air hangout – don’t use the event option as it will create a second hangout that won’t really be used for anything.

    Am I reading this right? I’ve been banging my head over this for the past day.

    Thanks for the details you posted.

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