Google has rolled out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video conferencing capabilities to all G Suite customers globally until July 1, 2020 so businesses can work from home.

The Uptown Studios’ team is now working remotely! We started this last Tuesday and it has been a bit of a  commitment to get everything in place. Now that we are all set up, our meetings are exclusively taking place on Google Hangouts Meet.

Having just done a lot of trial and error, here are some things we recommend you consider when video conferencing from home:

1. Get Set Up Beforehand

When you enter a Google Hangouts Meet call, it sends you to a lobby screen where you can see your video as it will appear in the meeting. Use this moment to double check what people can see! Is it too dark? Bright? Messy? Choose the right background when you’re on video chat. You may want to get out of bed and sit in a chair with a nice background behind you. We suggest avoiding windows because they tend to create too much back-lighting. Put your laptop some place steady. If you are home with others you may want to warn them that you are on a video chat so they can make sure to stay out of the shot.

2. Use Captions

If you’re having trouble hearing, we recommend you remind meeting participants to put themselves on mute unless they are activity talking. If that still doesn’t improve your ability to hear, Google Hangouts Meet has a really impressive Captions feature. It generates captions in real time! Simple move your house towards the bottom right of the screen and click the Captions feature.

3. Only Select Share a Window

Google Hangouts Meet also allows you to share your screen with call participants. Make sure you read the options they give you very closely! Once you select Present Screen, you can either Share your entire screen or Share a Window. We strongly recommend you select Share a Window. That way, you are not sharing your email or a Slack that might you have going on with a co-worker by mistake.

4. Avoid Getting Stuck in a Long Email

Switch to a Google Hangout quickly and easily.  This way, you are getting the best of your conversation and able to see body language too.

5. Get Real

Don’t be afraid to show your real life and space. If your dog walks into the frame, pet your dog and introduce them! Same with a child, let them say, Hi!, to the group. It is the real space we are working in and it is okay to show you have a life. We are all struggling to adjust to these new changes. Being real can help you create new (or stronger) connections with the people you are video chatting with. You don’t want to change the tone of the meeting too much, but if you need to get up and change your space, do it.

Holler at us if you have any questions!

Tina Reynolds
By Tina Reynolds
Tina Reynolds is president of Uptown Studios, Inc. and has been running her own design firm since 1976. She is the community face of Uptown Studios and her blog entries are directed to business owners ready to make their materials, Easy, Fun and Popular.