Mastering Virtual Meetups

Virtual meet-ups are a great way to connect with friends and family regardless of distance or how busy life can be. With the current climate, being able to contact family through video conference services has become even more important.

But here’s the problem:

Video-conferencing can seem rather intimidating at first, especially if you haven’t used it often, if at all.

There are so many features, options and settings that it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed. But the truth is, it’s nowhere near as difficult as it may look.

In fact, you’ll be able to master services like Google Meet with no prior knowledge just by reviewing the information contained in this special report!

Why do so many people prefer Google Meet?

To start, they offer a free version with the option to upgrade for as little as $8/month. And Google Meet provides you with advanced security ensuring that you and your loved ones can communicate without concern of interference.

And since Google Meet integrates with Gmail and Google Calendar, it’s easy to stay organized as well as set reminders so you never miss a call.

But Google Meet does so much more than that! In this special report, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this popular platform so you can take advantage of its many benefits with connecting with friends and family.

Let’s begin!

Google Meet 101

Getting started with Google Meet is as easy as going to meet.google.com. You can use your computer or laptop, your tablet, or even a smartphone.

You can access Google Meet via a web browser from your computer or you can download the Google Meet mobile app, available on both Google Play and the App Store.

Note: You’ll need to sign in with an existing Google account or you can create one free in just a few minutes.

Once signed in, you’ll be able to either start a new meeting or copy/paste a meeting code someone has given you to join an existing meeting.

You can also visit the settings link at the top right and check your audio and video levels to make sure you look and sound your best, prior to joining or creating a call. 

And just so you’re fully aware, Google Meet’s free option gives you up to 60 minutes of screen time per session, with up to 100 participants. There are also other options, with longer meetings and more participants but you’ll need to upgrade your account to access those features.

Here’s what you get with a free basic account:

  • You can use Meet from a browser or mobile app.
  • You can send invites to up to 100 friends and family.
  • You can see English subtitles whenever anyone speaks.
  • You can share your computer screen with everyone in the meeting.
  • You can adjust the layout of your virtual meeting room for your convenience.

If you’d like to start your own room, simply click on the “New Meeting” link. This will bring up a choice of three options. We’ll talk about the other two later – for now let’s focus on “instant meeting.”

Click that and you’ll be asked to allow Google Meet to share your microphone and video camera. This is essential because without these permissions, nobody can see or hear you.

Once you give your permission, you’ll see yourself on the screen inside your meeting room.

Your room will look a lot like the old “Brady Bunch” TV show opening. It will show a tile or thumbnail image of everyone in the room. It will also have various features at the top and bottom of your video image.

The most important options are at the center bottom. These are the microphone, the “leave call” button, and the video camera.

Clicking on the microphone once will mute you, which means no one will be able to hear you or anything going on around you.

You’ll know if you are muted because the button will be bright red with a line through the microphone icon. Just click it a second time to un-mute so you can speak.

The “Leave Call” button is how to end your participation, so don’t click that until you’re ready to exit. And the video button turns your camera on and off.

This is useful if you have to do something else where you’re able to remain on the call but not the camera. When your camera is off, others in the room will either see a blank screen with your name, or your profile image, if you have added one to your Google account.

Another useful button is available at the top right of your screen: the chat button.

It looks like a little cartoon speech bubble and when you click it, the chat screen will pop up to the side of your room. You can type whatever you need to say at the bottom, then either hit your “enter” key, or the little arrow symbol beside your words.

Chat is useful when sharing information like web links or comments you don’t necessarily want to interrupt the speaker with.

There’s another little button beside the chat. That looks like 2 little heads beside each other and clicking that reveals a list of everyone who’s in the room and on the chat screen.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of entering and leaving the room, and can mute and unmute yourself, you’re ready to go.

Now, let’s look at some basic and more advanced tips and tricks for Google Meet.

How to Start a Meeting

One of the easiest ways to start a meeting is just to go to meet.google.com on your computer or laptop and click the “New Meeting” link, but you can access Google Meet from your Gmail account, or by using the app, too.

If you’re using an Android phone, just get the Google Meet app and open it. Tap “New Meeting” and you’ll see the three options: get a meeting link to share, start an instant meeting, and schedule in Google calendar.

From there, the experience is the same as when using Google Meet from your computer or laptop.

If you’re using an iPad or iPhone, download the Google Meet app and open it. Tapping “New Meeting” pulls up the familiar three options you can choose from.

Are you beginning to see how easy Google Meet is to use?

You can also start or join a meeting from your Gmail account. Log into your account and look on the left-hand side of the screen, toward the middle (or toward the bottom on some accounts).

You should see “Meet” followed by two choices: new meeting or join a meeting. Choose “New Meeting” and you’ll see the familiar three choices pop up.

When your guests begin to arrive in the room, you’ll hear a chime for the first five participants, then you’ll just see a silent notification for everyone else.

And that’s all there is to starting a meeting! Anyone can do it, even if they’re a technophobe.

We’ll talk about some other things you, as room administrator, will need to know about, but first let’s continue with the basics.

Joining a Meeting

To join a meeting, you’ll need the meeting code from the meeting’s organizer. That’s the string of letters at the end of the meeting link.

Go to meet.google.com and click the “join a meeting” button. Enter the 10-digit code you’ve been given. You don’t need to enter the hyphens when you enter the code. Click “continue” and then “join now” and you’re in.

To join a video call from your Gmail account, open your account and look for the “Meet” links on the left-hand side of the screen, around the center.

Click “Join a Meeting” and enter the 10-digit code you were given by the administrator. Click “Join” and make sure your video camera and microphone are either on or muted, whichever you desire.

If your meeting is scheduled on your Google Calendar, pull up your calendar and click on the event you’re going to be joining.

Click on “Join with Google Meet” and a new box will open on the screen. Click “Join Now” and you’ll be in the room for the meeting.

If you don’t have a Google account, you can still join a meeting if the organizer has the paid Google Workspace edition and grants you access. You won’t be able to do this with a mobile device if you don’t have a Google account.

First, open the chat message or email containing the meeting link. Click “Ask to Join” and wait for access to be granted.

If you don’t have an email link, just go to meet.google.com and hit “Use a Meeting Code.” Enter the code you’ve been given and click “Continue.” Then click “Ask to Join” and wait for access to be granted by the administrator.

If you have an Android device, open the Google Meet app and swipe up from the bottom to view your scheduled meetings. The only meetings that will show up are ones that have been scheduled with Google Calendar.

Tap “Join” or select a meeting from the list and tap “Join Meeting.” You can also tap “Meeting Code” and enter the code you were given (the hyphens are optional). Tap “Join Meeting” and “Ask to Join,” then wait to be admitted to the room.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, open the Google Meet app. Swipe up and tap on the scheduled meeting you want to join, then tap “Join.” You can also tap “Join with Code” and enter the code you’ve been given on the top right (hyphens are optional). Then tap “Join.”

Adding People to a Meeting

You can add people to a meeting either beforehand or during the meeting itself. If you start an instant meeting, you’ll be adding them after you start. Also, some people will need you to accept their request to join, as we discussed above.

To add your friends and family to your meeting room, you just click on “Add People” (it looks like a little head and shoulders bust with a + sign) and either choose from your contact list or enter an email address to send an invitation.

You can also click on the “Copy Joining Info” (that looks like two sheets of paper stacked together) and then paste that meeting information into an email or into the app.

Once you’re in the meeting room, you can always find the invitation information by clicking on “Meeting Details” at the bottom left of your screen. Clicking that will bring up the copy/paste information for you.

You can bulk-admit participants, too. Only you, as the meeting organizer, will be able to approve or deny entry to your room, so stick around until everyone else is there.

When a request to join pops up, you can either tap “Admit” or “Deny Entry.” To handle multiple participants, click on “View All” and pick one of two options.

Either click “Admit” or “Deny Entry” next to each name one at a time, or click “Admit All” or “Deny All.”

If you need to remove a person from your room for any reason, you simply click on the People icon (the two little busts) and point to their name on the list. Click the back arrow (<) and click “Remove” (-).

Changing the Layout

Google Meet automatically switches the layout around in a video call to show the most active speakers and/or content. You can change this around easily, though, and show the number of participants you wish (up to the limit of your screen).

Using your computer, go to meet.google.com and start or join a video meeting. Look at the bottom right of your screen and find the three vertical dots.

Click that and you’ll see a list of other options. Choose “Change Layout” and pick from the four options that will then pop up:

  • Auto: This is the view that Meet chooses for you. By default, you’ll be able to see nine participants on a page.
  • Tiled: This view shows up to 49 participants at once. By default, it will start by showing 16 tiles, but you can move the slider at the bottom of the window to show the number of participants you want to see.
  • Spotlight: This is where the active speaker or shared screen fills the entire window. It will show whoever is talking (or making any noise at all) or whichever screen has been shared with the room and you won’t be able to see anyone else.
  • Sidebar: The main image in the center will be the active speaker or shared content, while you’ll see thumbnails of the other participants in a vertical line to the side of that speaker.

Your new layout preferences will be saved once you pick them, but the number of participants you see will default at the start of every new meeting, so you’ll need to change that every time.

You can also decide if you want to see your own image in the room. By default, this feature is off when you first enter a room.

You also won’t see yourself if you select the sidebar view or have another participant pinned.

To turn on self-view, look at the top right corner of your screen and hover over the little thumbnail of your image. You’ll see an icon that looks like four squares stacked into a cube.

You can click “Show in a Tile” to see your own image with everyone else, or “Remove Tile” to turn it back off again.

Note: you’ll still see the tiny thumbnail of yourself during the meeting, but you won’t see your image in a regular tile like everyone else in the room. Remember that they can see you, though, unless you turn off your camera.

Adding Captions

Are you having trouble understanding the people in your room?

There’s an easy fix for that: you can turn on closed captioning.

This is a useful feature if there’s too much background noise or if your hearing just isn’t what it used to be. The text of what’s being said will appear at the bottom of the screen.

Note: if you record the meeting, the captions are not recorded and will not show up on the recorded view.

On your computer, go to meet.google.com and join or start a meeting. At the bottom, look for the little box with “cc” and click that to turn on captions. Click it again to turn it back off. It’s just that easy!

The captions will remain on throughout future meetings until you turn them off again.

One handy tip: if your captions are covered by the room control icons, move your cursor away from the room and wait for the icons to vanish again.

If you have an Android device, open the Google Meet app and join a meeting. At the bottom right, tap the three vertical dots (“More”) and tap the “cc” box on or off.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, open the Google Meet app and join a meeting. On the bottom right, tap “More” (the three vertical dots again) and tap the “cc” box on or off.

Useful Controls

There are many useful controls in your Google Meet room and we’ll talk about the most frequently used ones now. The first one is your mute button.

Remember the little microphone at the bottom center of your screen will be red with a line through it if you are muted.

This means nobody will be able to hear you speak (or hear anything else that may be going on in the background where you are speaking).

If you are unmuted, everyone can hear your voice, along with whatever else is going on. It’s usually polite to mute yourself if you’re not speaking.

If you’re the room organizer, you can also mute other people in the room. This is very useful if you’re getting feedback or extraneous noise from their microphone.

Just go to the “People” icon (the two little busts) and click on their name, then tap “Mute.”

You can also just tap their thumbnail image and you’ll see the “Mute” option pop up. Note: you will not be able to unmute anyone, however. You’ll have to tell the participant to unmute themselves if they wish to speak.

If you’re using a mobile phone or iPad, once you’re in the meeting tap the meeting name at the top left. On the “People” tab beside a participant’s name, tap “Menu” (three vertical dots) and then tap “Mute.”

Pinning someone’s image so that you always see them is another useful function of Meet. First, tap and hold their image. Then, just tap on the “Pin” icon (that looks like a little thumbtack) and they will remain front and center on your screen. You can also tap the “People” icon and choose “Pin” from that screen.

If you’re using a mobile phone or iPad, once you’re in the meeting tap the meeting name at the top left. On the “People” tab beside a participant’s name, tap “Menu” (three vertical dots) and then tap “Pin.”

Pinning an image lets you see that person at all times, which is useful if they’re giving a speech or a reading – or if they’re your favorite grandchild. You can also unpin the image when needed by clicking the same button.

Chatting is a fun way to “whisper” to each other while someone else is talking and you don’t’ want to interrupt them.

On your computer or laptop, just look at the top right of the screen and you’ll see the “Chat” box.

Clicking that brings up a new screen to the side of the room. Type whatever you wish to say into the box at the very bottom. To share with the room, either hit the “enter” key on your keyboard or tap the arrow symbol to the right of the text box.

Your message will then show up to the side of the room, along with anything said by other participants. This is very useful if you want to share URL links, book titles and authors, or anything else your friends and family might want written down.

If you have a cellphone or iPad, you can chat by using “In Call Messages.” Join a meeting with the Google Meet app, then at the bottom right, tap “More” (three vertical dots). From there, just tap “In Call Messages” and you’re good to go.

You can change your background easily, too. To change it before you join, select a meeting, then at the bottom right of your self-view, click “Change Background.” You can blur the background completely by tapping “Blur Background.” “Slightly Blur Background” is another option. There are also some preloaded images you can use for your background.

To choose one, just click on that image. Or, you can upload one of your own photos to use. Just click “Add” (+) and select the image from your computer.

Once you’re in the meeting, you can still change the background by clicking the three vertical dots at the bottom right on your screen (“More”).

Choose from the four options given above to select your background image. On a mobile phone or iPad, your only choice is to blur the background or leave it clear.

Changing your background can add interest to a meeting or share an image with friends and family. It can also just be a fun way to get a laugh if you have a humorous background you’d like to use.

Final Words

So, there you have it: the basics of using Google Meet. Now you’ll be able to create a meeting, manage a call and understand the many features available to you.

You can start with a free account and only upgrade when you decide you need more time or wish to access additional features.

Think about the power of Google Meet. Not only is it exceptionally useful when connecting with friends and family, but if you run an online business or you’re an educator or coach, this is one of the easiest ways to integrate a video conference into your existing platform.

For example, Google Workspace Essentials is currently just $8USD/monthly and extends your group meeting length from 100 participants to 150 while also providing you with US or International dial-in phone numbers as well as the ability to offer Q&A sessions and polls.


And if you want even more, Google Workspace Enterprise is designed for large businesses and comes bundled with many other options including 300 hours of meeting time as well, up to 250 participants and features special options like intelligent noise cancellation and live streaming.

So, take some time exploring the different packages available and choose the one that works best for you.


To your video-conferencing success,

Resources

Here are links to a few resources that I believe will help you:

Integrate Google Meet Easily:

>> https://zapier.com/apps/google-meet/integrations

Google Meet for Teachers/Educators:

>>https://www.weareteachers.com/google-meet-for-teachers/

Google Meet for Online Learning:

>>https://ditchthattextbook.com/google-meet-elearning/

Google Meet Cheat Sheet:

>>https://support.google.com/a/users/answer/9300131?hl=en

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