Using Hangouts-on-air (HOA’s) is so simple, most newbies get it right without a lot of instructions. Struggling through the many tutorials is not needed to get started (although they become useful later). But from my experiences with newbies as a regular moderator of hangouts, some very basic things can go wrong. So, here are a few instructions to make life even easier.
When you video or mic are not working properly, you might have to adjust your settings. You find the button on the top right of your interface, next to the button to exist the hangout.
An additional interface opens (like you see on the picture), and you can see what webcam and mic the interface is using (or not using). A drop-down menu for each of them allows you to adjust the standard settings for webcam and mic. When you test it, you can see also whether you are setting straight, have no funny things in the background, your hair sits straight, you are properly dressed or are wearing glasses that reflect your PC.
Second tip: try to use a headset, preferably a simple set of earphones, so the chances of producing unwanted noises during a hangout are limited. You can use more advanced headsets too, but to not forget to adjust the settings to the right position, otherwise both your mic or speakers might not work properly.
And since we are in the educational mode, I would suggest to download also the Hangout Toolbox, an app you can find listed when you look for apps, after you have started a hangout (it needs a minor download). Most of those tools you do not need right away, but the lower third, I would suggest to try right away. (It is the interface at the right, click on the icon with a headset and red square). You see the interface at the right.
It allows you to display you name, affiliation and even the flag of a country in the lower third third of your screen. (Make sure it does not cover your mouth!). Also, do not forget to move the switch in the right-top corner from off to on. Most of the other tools are just for fun or to mass control, things you do not really need when you start.
I regularly do test runs for people who start using hangouts for the first time. You can add me on Gtalk or drop me an email to get included in such a test. Many other hangout users are willing to do the same when you ask them. After that you are ready to join the hangout, and you can then start exploring the many tutorials on HOA’s, to fine tune your operation.