Thursday, 31 January 2013

Are Hangouts Any Good For Presentations?

In recent posts I've described how we've been using Google Hangouts to stream Archaeology seminars. These have been simple point-the-laptop-at-the-speaker-and-press-go affairs. Because we had a real live and remote audience at the the last seminar I've been wondering if we could do a better job of displaying the presenter's slides rather than just the webcam video of the speaker.

At first glance it would seem that there are two ways of displaying the speakers slides. The first would be using the Google Drive tool. But when you select that tool, you are sharing the "editing" view of your slides. Not what you want at all. If you choose "Present" the app goes full screen and you lose the Hangout you're in.

The other option might be to use the Screenshare tool, but the same thing applies. You can see my slides below are being shown in a shared window, but it is with the addition of the slide thumbnails, the speaker notes and even the browser  tabs and window bar. Again, when you click present, it takes over your entire screen(s), adds a lovely brushed metal effect and blots out your Hangout. 

This way of working would be OK if you were working on the slides together, but it seems hopeless for a presenter presenting.  I had thought this might be a good way for long listed job candidates, many who might be overseas, to present for a pre-interview perhaps.

Is it me?

Is this just a Mac thing? Has anyone else satisfactorily presented slides using a Hangout? Am I missing a setting or doing something completely wrong?

For me, the way it should/could work would be for a presentation to simply fill the white area of the screen with the tools down the side remaining ( and the screen controller at bottom ). If they were being clever, I'd maybe be able to doodle on the slides. Ideally the slides would stretch to fit.. or fit the widest edge. Maybe the background colour would be detected ( to make the slides look nice ) etc.

At the moment there is so much interface clutter that the slides themselves are like a postcard propped on a mantel piece at the end of a corridor filled with filling cabinets and signage and chairs, maybe a bin or two, with lever arch box files stacked randomly here and there. The experience is like a bureaucratic pop video, obsessing on the tools and missing the action.


  1. As part of my teaching practice I've done a few hangouts in which I record webcam video and also a Presentation done in GDrive.

    The actual _Presentation View_ does not work within the Hangout UI but the work around is fairly simple.

    Basically, one has to have two windows open; one for the hangout UI and the other for the presentation view. You don't need to use the _Present_ option in the _View_ pulldown. Instead, use _Share_ and get the direct link from there. Copy/Paste the link into a new window and this will take you to the presentation directly.

    You're are almost ready to transmit your Presentation. All that is left is for you to adjust the windows on your computer screen and when ready press the ScreenShare button in the handout, selecting the Presentation window, and voilá, everyone else in the hangout now sees your presentation while you oversee the presentation and the hangout at the same time.

    Here is a sreenshot of my desktop with this scenario I have explained:

    Hope this helps.

  2. Ah yes.. Thank you. It's a bit opaque isn't it? Or rather I'm going to have to tell A LOT of people that that's how you do it.

    I'm now going to give it a whirl... thanks again!

  3. The common mistake people make is using Google Drive in a hangout to present. You're correct that usingscreenshare is the answer - the presentation just has to be in a separate window.

  4. Thanks for that. Useful video.