Google Meet is one of the most popular options for virtual meetings, but the new Google Meet Companion Mode makes it even more useful. Sharing your screen no longer takes you away from the meeting. Use one screen for the meeting and a second one for sharing.
What Is Google Meet Companion Mode?
If you’ve ever been in a meeting and wanted to participate in a chat, a poll, or use a whiteboard, you know how frustrating it can be to switch between the interaction and the participant grid. With Companion Mode, you don’t have to choose anymore.
Use a second screen just for screen sharing and meeting activities while using your main screen to view all meeting participants as usual. Only your main screen uses your camera, mic, and speakers, cutting down on extra noises, such as tapping the screen or typing on a keyboard as you share with the second screen.
You can easily raise your hand, use individual chat, or share your screen in the meeting without ever losing focus of other meeting participants.
What’s great is that you can use a variety of devices – another computer/laptop, Chromebook, or even a Google Nest Hub Max device – as a second screen. While you can use a mobile device as your primary screen, it can’t be your secondary screen. This includes tablets.
Any participant is able to join in Companion Mode, so this isn’t restricted to the meeting leader. However, if you’re hosting, use Companion Mode for all your hosting controls.
Others will know you’re in this mode, as your name will say “Companion Mode” underneath it. Remember that you won’t see the participant grid on your secondary screen to make room for other activities.
Overall, think of it as a productivity feature that lets you accomplish more. Google’s been on a productivity kick recently, even adding more productivity features to Chromebooks. Companion Mode is already built in to Google Meet, so there’s nothing extra to install or enable.
Join a Meeting in Companion Mode
All you need is the meeting code or link to use Google Meet Companion Mode. If you’re the host, once you create the meeting room, you’ll use the link to join as a Companion if you want. Join the meeting normally on your primary screen.
On your secondary screen, click the meeting invitation link, then Use Companion mode under Other joining options.
If you’ve copied the link in your browser versus using an invite, you’ll need to click Ask to use Companion mode to join the meeting.
Another method is to use the Google Meet Companion mode link after you’ve already joined on your main screen. Go to the Companion mode site. Enter the meeting link, and press Start Companion.
What You Can Do With Google Meet Companion Mode
Now that you have a second screen with no people on it, what can you actually do with it? When the screen loads, you’ll notice it looks almost identical to a normal Google Meet meeting – but without participant tiles.
Obviously, you can participate in chat with everyone or select individuals to send messages to. Close the chat window if that’s not why you’re using Companion Mode.
There’s also a handy message in the middle of the screen letting you know what else you can do, such as:
- Participate in a virtual whiteboard
- Raise your hand
- Share your screen
- Host a presentation
Of course, this is just a sample of what you can do. You can also:
- Enable closed captioning
- Share emojis
- Share a video feed for remote participants
- Premium features, like breakout rooms, polls, and even recording meetings. (Learn about other ways to record video meetings.)
While you can do all of this on your primary screen, it’s easier to continue interacting with other meeting participants if you can see them on your primary screen. Plus, without your camera or mic turned on, there’s no pesky audio feedback.
If you’re hosting, keep your hosting controls on the second screen to make room on your primary screen to see participants, especially with larger groups.
Participating in Companion Mode
Similar to a normal meeting, you’ll use the icons at the bottom of the screen to participate.
From left to right, the buttons allow you to do the following:
- Share your camera: this is ideal if your primary device’s camera isn’t working right.
- Turn on closed captions: get real-time text of what’s being said. Usually, this is best to use on your primary screen. However, if you’re using a smaller screen for the primary, you may prefer using closed captions on a larger secondary screen.
- Raise your hand: easily raise your hand to get the speaker’s attention without interrupting them. This is also ideal for small classes. If you need an alternative to Google Classroom, try these other LMS options.
- Present: share your screen. Choose from the entire screen, a window, or just a browser tab.
- Adjust settings, troubleshoot, and report issues.
- Leave call.
If there are other activities available, you’ll need to click the Activities icon at the bottom right to view them.
If you’re joining a meeting from a conference room, use Companion Mode for each person to check in to the room. This lets each person have a participant tile and use the chat features. It’s a great option for hybrid meetings where remote participants and conference rooms are meeting together.
However, if you’re checking in to a room in Companion Mode, you can’t leave it without ending the room session. You must stay in this mode until the meeting is over.
Other Things to Know About Google Meet Companion Mode
An important thing to remember about Companion Mode is that each additional device counts as another participant. If 25 people are in your meeting, and each one uses this mode, Google Meet counts 50 participants. Account for this when planning your meeting.
Before you or your participants consider using only Companion Mode versus having a main screen device, you can’t. You won’t have any audio or video, so it makes the meeting pointless. This is really just a companion feature to Google Meet. Consider it similar to having dual monitors to make it easier to work on multiple tasks at once.
If you’re having trouble using Companion Mode, try disabling any third-party Chrome extensions. These may interfere with Google Meet and Companion Mode. You can always re-enable them after your meeting. Also, if you’re looking for specific features, these are limited, based on the version of Google Meet you’re using. For instance, breakout rooms aren’t available in the Essentials Starter edition, but they are available in other editions.
Google Meet Companion Mode makes it easier than ever to have more interactive – and even productive – meetings. It would be nice if mobile devices could be secondary devices, and maybe one day Google will implement this. If you want a more fun Google meeting, learn how to change your background. If you’re on a limited data plan, find out how much bandwidth video calls use.
Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Crystal Crowder.
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