Talk shows are as old as broadcast television. While the format and topics of every talk show may be slightly different, the mission remains the same.
Stories are at the heart of every show.
Stories of noteworthy or famous people, perhaps, a lot of the time.
But stories all the same.
And with the advent of the Internet and the rise of YouTube, even more platforms have arisen for people to share their story and create their own fame.
The Internet, of course, has been the great democratizer of access to data, and with that access has also come an improved ability to share one’s knowledge and opinions. And thus, we have seen the rise of the YouTube celebrity: people like Jenna Marbles and Freddie Wong of Video Game High School.
(Not to mention the fantastic musicians like Lindsey Stirling and The Piano Guys who use YouTube as a means to share new songs with their fans.)
There are hundreds of interesting shows on YouTube, from helpful tutorials to emotional confessions, but Google+ has added a new layer to the discussion, becoming the new home for the talk show.
Because of its ability to host up to ten people at a time, Google+ Hangouts on Air have become the Internet’s heir apparent for hosting online talk shows.
They are focused on dialogue.
They are focused on story.
They are focused on being right-here, right-now, authentic conversation.
I know, daytime and even nighttime talk shows are not necessarily known for being prime examples of authenticity. But—while talk shows are limited to people with (at minimum) access to a local cable channel, Hangouts on Air can be broadcast by anyone with Internet access and a webcam. This has added a far greater capacity for real dialogue between new friends made around the world.
What is a Hangout on Air like?
For those who don’t know, Hangoutson Air (or HOAs) are essentially multi-party video calls that are conducted via webcam from wherever you are. Where Hangouts are private and not recorded, Hangouts on Air are broadcast to a designated YouTube channel. They can be watched live or via replay at any point after the broadcast begins.
Most Hangouts on Air start with a “green room”, which starts when the host invites the Hangout on Air co-hosts and guests into the video call to prepare for the show prior to going on the air. Both guests and hosts have a chance to get to know each other a little bit, and ask any last-minute questions that they have for each other. All of the participants add their lower thirds (banners with their name and info, below their faces) and get ready to go live.
Then, at the appointed time, the host starts the show and the conversation begins.
From this point on, every show will be a little different, based on the personality of the show and the style of the host. Characteristically, most HOA shows follow these basic elements:
- Welcome and Announcements – The host opens the show by telling everyone about theme of the show, and makes some opening observations. Sometimes they’ll briefly share announcements about sponsors, upcoming episodes, or outside projects.
- Introductions – After opening the show, the show’s host will usually throw the conversation to each of their co-hosts and guests to introduce themselves and what they do.
- Open Dialogue or Interview – Some HOAs focus on interviewing a person about their story. Others emphasize the delivery of useful information about a topic. Some do both. In either case, most good Hangouts on Air feature a vibrant exchange between the hosts and the guests, in which both parties involved get a good deal of time to share their ideas.
- Audience Participation – Google has provided a robust real-time commenting feature for participants in Hangouts on Air, and a Comment Tracker so that it is easy for the host and guests to monitor and share the audience engagement that is happening live. As a result, the live audience in Hangouts on Air can be more likely to feel really involved in the show.
As the show winds down, the host will usually thank each of the co-hosts and guests, and invite them to share any concluding thoughts or personal announcements about projects. Then they will take the show off the air, after which there will usually be a bit more conversation between hosts and guests before the video call is concluded.
The multinational dialogue
It’s exciting to participate in Hangouts on Air, especially when you have been around Google+ for a while. They bring you closer together with your fellow Plussers, both the ones who appear on the HOA with you and those who are joining in from the comments.
Best of all, it is possible to use them for conversations coordinated across the globe— it is possible to have an international Hangout on Air with participants in France, southern California, Morocco, India, and Columbia if you coordinate time zones properly!
The webcams of Hangout on Air participants have the power to pick up something that is often lost under the glare of television studio lights: authentic personality. The characteristically simple backdrops and technology that is currently used by most HOA show organizers bring the emphasis directly back to the content of the conversation. It’s not about looking pretty. It’s about being real and relatable.
In the face of a world of media that seems increasingly fake, it is refreshing to spend time learning from other real people who are just here to be real and share their stories and experiences with others. And that’s the gift that Google+ Hangouts on Air have given to the Internet.
Be sure to check out the HOA Calendar and HOAShows.com for great resources about regularly scheduled and upcoming Hangouts on Air that might be of interest!