When participating in Google+ Hangouts On Air, there is inevitably a part of you that shines through and is revealed to the world. The good news is that you are in control of the part of you that is presented.
You may think that the amount of time spent in preparation is related to the time prior to the hangout, but, really, it is something that has more to do with planning than it does with preparation, as the preparation can actually inherit its direction from planning.
Benjamin Franklin has been credited with saying, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” That quote applies to this situation, as well. However, that does not mean that there needs to be some complicated process to the planning element. There are going to be those who want to take planning to the nth degree and make checklists and defined processes. It is likely that those are also the types of people that take these steps for the many projects that they undertake, and it is their way of approaching many situations. There are also the types of people that abhor planning and the mere thought of the word sounds as if it squelches the essence of who they are. Both personality types are needed and appreciated, but there is a common ground, when it comes to Google Hangout planning, as presented in this article.
The “planning” that is being proposed is more like a definition process, which is a basic process of needs analysis in project management. In this case, the suggestion is to define elements of what is the desired outcome, or objective, of the presentation.
Checklist of Presentation Elements to Consider
The following elements are not an exhaustive list, but the hope is that it will create cause to evaluate what each person considers important and what is not important, in each situation. By understanding things that need to be considered, it is also easier to define those elements that may be intentionally ignored or discarded. This type of planning may be something that is done once and applied for each hangout opportunity or something that is assessed for each hangout, if you tend to participate in hangouts that have very different definitions. By defining these elements, the process of getting dressed and sitting in front of the camera actually becomes easier, because you know what you are doing and where you are going.
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The Purpose of the Hangout
Ask the question of what the purpose is for the hangout. What is the topic? Are you a featured guest or expert? Is it simply a “public hangout” with seemingly no defined purpose? If the purpose is an informal gathering, then possibly a baseball cap is appropriate for attire, especially if it is sports-related. If the purpose is more professional or business-related, possibly a suit coat would be the appropriate choice. These are two extremes, and in our Web 2.0 world, there are many times that attire fits somewhere “in the middle,” allowing for personal style and professionalism or creative presentation, as the hangout objective dictates. Many of these questions may be ascertained by viewing videos of past hangouts (if they are available). You may also ask the host.
Regional and Cultural Considerations
The regional and cultural considerations analysis help to define whether these elements need to come into play for decision-making. It is impossible to think that any person can be all things to all people, including being knowledgeable about all cultures and cultural mores throughout the world, let alone, to adhere to those cultural “rules.” If the hangout is not global, and is only regional, this is less of a concern because it is assumed that the participants in the same region understand the cultural considerations. If it is global, generally speaking, aim for the culture of the hosting country while having an eye toward not trying to offend other cultures. This is tricky and is another example why viewing past hangout videos is helpful in determining what is appropriate and what is not. If past hangouts reveal that most of the participants are sitting upright and talking to the camera, then lounging in the favorite beanbag chair on the floor is probably not the message that the host is trying convey. However, if past hangouts reveal everyone wearing their favorite sports team shirt and drinking beer, while making toasts to each other over the Internet, then the beanbag chair may be the most appropriate presentation.
Understand the Audience
Similar to the preceding two points, understanding the audience is key. This applies to several aspects of business and not just preparation for Google hangouts. If the regional and cultural awareness seems too tricky, fall back on the understanding of the audience, which would apply in the example above. Remember that the audience includes the other Google+ hangout participants, as well as the viewers, and the consumers of the brand that is represented in the hangout (if there is one).
Define Personal Brand and Image
This is probably one of the most important elements but was saved until last. This is the element that actually gives allowance for the “breaking of the rules.” For example, if you are a “shock jock,” it would not be beneficial to come to a hangout looking like a high school science teacher. Then again, it is unlikely that these two individuals would be on the same hangout unless there is a shock element or desire for contrasts, in which case, the “Purpose for the Hangout” comes into play. It may be helpful to sit down with an image consultant, or a friend, or other professional, to help navigate what the definition of your brand and image is, or should be, so that a game plan may be prepared and used for decision-making. This will also help in areas beyond Google hangouts, as it will help with the personal presentation and brand identification for the audience.
Understanding your objective and your brand and/or personal image will help you to be able to navigate the direction of aspects of your personal preparation for Google Plus hangouts, whether you are a host or a participant. Remember that the viewing of past hangouts is invaluable in providing clues and if those clues are not readily available, do not hesitate to contact the host and ask questions. Finally, don’t hold such a high standard that a lack of personal achievement in a particular hangout results in fleeing from all future hangouts. Life is a learning process and sometimes, even trial and error can provide the most helpful learning experiences in moving forward.
Getting involved with Google Hangouts will prove to be excelllent for your business and for building awareness for your brand and your offerings. The tool will be worth a great deal for you if you learn to leverage it properly. It is beneficial for you to get used to being a part of various hangouts and really working it to its fullest potential.
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