Hello. You guys are google hangout masters. I am trying to launch a channel where I interview scientists and engineers and have classrooms or homeschooled families or other interested people who can't usually talk to people in these careers join the conversation. Could give me tips for running such a well oiled hangout. How do you set up the greenroom? What instructions do you send to your guests? What are some pitfalls to avoid or general advice? Anything would be helpful. Love your channel.
Oh hello its so good to see you! Not that I can actually see you… Anyway thanks so much for this message we appreciate the tip of your cap. Okay it’s 3am and I’m replying, excuse my poorly executed cliches. We’ve actually put an awful lot of work creating a hangout experience that we’re really proud of so I’m happy to share it with you. A little backstory for those who are just tuning in, we realised as Seahorses that we might be able to get some of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries cast to join us for convention-like Q&A session for lots of other Seahorses/LBD fans using G+ hangouts and we figured the best way to that was to do it as efficiently as possible. Here’s an image illustrating what a Seahorse Q&A looks like behind the scenes:
Of course the first one didn’t look exactly like this but we perfected this over time and now we’re really happy with how this works. Recently we did Seahorse Q&A hangouts for the webseries Kissing in the Rain and as that fandom is a smaller than the Lizzie Bennet Diaries we were able to streamline a little with the Scout and Verifier; performed by the same person for the hangout I was present for at least, with a single Greg.
Very early on we realised that three positions absolutely essential, the MC, the Tech Mod and the Green Room Mod. The MC needs to focus on the how the broadcast is running and keeping the guest (often slightly nervous actors) happy, whilst the tech mod needs to make sure all is running smoothly behind the scenes. The fans who are selected to ask questions (based on twitter requests) are granted access to the green room where they are prepared (how it will go, what to expect, what behaviour is appropriate, what to do if something happens, etc) this is the role I often perform and its best to have someone with Producer-like skills, who is understanding and patient but ultimately has no problems being a little bit bossy. Fans move from the green room to the main hangout in waves, they are given the direct link to the main hangout and instructed not to share it otherwise we may cease the Q&A. As a safety precaution the green room mod always tells the tech mod who to expect so if anyone were to bypass the green room they would not be unmuted and would be promptly removed. I can proudly say that this has never happened and our fellow fans have always behaved with the utmost respect for the Q&A process. Fans are told to read the chat in the side of the hangout as it is not visible in broadcast and will receive instructions from the mods regarding when to expect your question and when your turn is up. After a couple hangouts we decided to restrict fans from saying goodbye verbally in the hangout as it is very slow for those who are streaming or watching later. Fans will generally always type a goodbye as they leave. This did feel a little awkward at first but we quickly realised that its for the best.
Once we had experienced some success a couple Seahorses realised we could improve the process by creating a Google docs spreadsheet. Behind the scenes Seahorses are able to enter fan questions and log: the type of question, who they’re directed at, where they came from, when they’ve been asked, etc. It’s all very organised and I’m very impressed with it but I cannot say too much about it as I’ve never been directly involved with the spreadsheet. I will say that it’s pretty amazing watching the team of people logging and sorting data and the MC being able to efficiently retrieve questions without hassle. If you want to know more about this process feel free to shoot us another question.
What we really try to do when making these Q&As is:
- Do our best to ensure that the people streaming and communicating with us live feel that they’re being heard and are involved in the process. Fan participation includes, joining a wave, tweeting at or writing a YouTube comment.
- Pick a wide variety of questions and do our best to ensure that as much of a wide variety of the fandom is involved as possible.
- Make sure that the actual livestream is entertaining, interesting and largely watchable whether or not you’re watching live or later. We didn’t want to prioritise the people asking their questions as they’re in minority to the people watching. Our number one priority is to provide quality content for the entire fandom not just those who were involved on the day.
Honestly I’m really proud of the work we’ve put into these hangouts and I truly do think we’ve created quality content. Should anyone wish to watch and of the past hangouts they’re all available at our YouTube channel. I could say so much more about the process and I’m sure if another Seahorse wrote this they would have prioritised other parts. Feel free to send us more questions or thoughts regarding the Q&As, and to any other fans reading this, if you’ve got something you’d like to share or make happen feel free to send us as message at any time.
This was written after 3am by a sleepy Sarah, please excuse any mistakes or inaccuracies.