computing / Google / Google+ / Hangouts

The Pro’s and Con’s of HOAs

Well, it’s mostly Pro’s, actually.


Remember when text messaging came on to the scene? Only 140 characters? The very idea was laughable. The military just might find a use for it.

But it took off .

Then they said it could only appeal to the proactive thumbs of teenagers. Wrong again.

Today, of course, EVERYONE texts.

Today, HOA – Google Plus Hangouts on Air, to give the technology its full official title – is the new kid on the block. It’s the SMS for our times.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way first.

The Con’s

There aren’t that many, actually.

1. This is NEW technology. It’s changing all the time. What worked yesterday may not work that way today. And tomorrow may be different again.

There are literally dozens of Youtube tutorials on how to do HOAs – and they’re nearly all wrong. (The same will probably become true of this intro, by the way. It’s kind of inevitable. Get used to it.)

2. Because HOA brings together two different technologies – Google Plus and Youtube – there are actually two different ways to set up an HOA. I recommend you ignore the Youtube route and go in via G+. Keep it simple.

3. A lot of its more sophisticated capabilities – like being able to incorporate Powerpoint presentations, embed Youtube videos, and capture screen activities on your PC – don’t always work.

Again: Keep it simple. Treat it like a chat room, or a seminar. (Technically, HOA is a special kind of webinar).

4. “I’m a businessman . . . a creative artist . . . a political activist . . . a church leader. I need to concentrate on my core activities, and not spend hours wrestling with new ways of doing stuff.”

Actually, if you keep it simple, it’s actually pretty easy to do. Certainly easier than learning how to use a spreadsheet or word processor (and Microsoft keeps moving the Office goalposts all the time, don’t they?)

Which brings us to . . .

 The Pro’s

1. HOA will put you ahead of the pack. Your competitors won’t know what hit them, as their followers desert them to join you in this exciting new adventure.

(Of course, the very NEWness of HOA may frighten off some of your existing followers; you might need to put this under the CON’s heading, above. You’ll need to reassure them that, for them, joining an HOA is as easy as opening a page on their web browser, which it really is. See below.

2. Up to nine of your executive staff, leadership team – or even selected customers/followers/members – can be invited by you to become co-presenters. All they need is a webcam on their PC or laptop, and if their computer doesn’t have a built-in webcam, they can be purchased for a few euros or GBP or dollars at any computer store.

This means they can be seen on screen and heard on audio (if they don’t have webcams, then their contributions will be audio only, of course). Each co-presenter’s mini-image is portrayed across the bottom of your screen, and as the main presenter you have control over whether they have the full screen. You do this by clicking on their image (which is live, not an icon). Your own image then  joins the links across the bottom of the screen, and you reclaim the main  screen by clicking on your own image. You can also mute any presenter’s audio (for instance, if they need to take a phone call).

One advantage of seeing your co-presenters is that this allows body-language and other non-verbal communication to be seen. Hearing impaired viewers will be able to lip-read, for instance. I am planning an  HOA with signing for this demographic.

3. An HOA can be public – in which case it is publicised on Youtube as soon as you have set it up, and anyone can watch it – or private, which case only people you specifically invite will be able to take part.

And if you enable Q&A – a simple yes/no process when you’re setting up any HOA – then ANY person logging in via their web browser can post questions, comment, or anything else they want to say. (If such a person posts inappropriate or offensive remarks, it’s the work of a moment to bar them.)

4. Lots of organisations are experiencing problems getting people to attend meetings. Perhaps evenings don’t suit people who prefer to stay home, or they have commitments like baby-sitting etc. They might even want to watch their favourite NFL or soccer team on TV. They can participate just by getting their laptop and logging on from the sofa while still watching the TV (mute the TV audio, though, eh?)

 5. When it’s over, a public HOA is saved automatically to Youtube and can be viewed there. This video will no longer be interactive, of course, but people can always submit comments (which can be on video, if they prefer).

6. Best of all . . .

It’s FREE!

Citrix has been charging hundreds of dollars for hosting webinars and you’re locked into their system, with regular subscription fees. Let me say it again:


So do you want to get on board the HOA bandwagon?

To be the first kid on your block to do so?

Then click HERE for the first step in our 1-2-3 guide.


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