5 Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

5 Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

In Uncategorized by Ed Kocher, ACA, BC-HIS

Ed Kocher, ACA, BC-HIS

As the holidays approach, many people will be gathering with family and friends virtually more than ever before. Like the majority of social activities this year, a lot of family gatherings will be moving online. But this does not mean that they have to be any less exciting! By making a few adjustments and taking the time to thoughtfully plan, you can have a dynamic virtual reunion. There are several ways to create a fun experience while connecting with family online including the following tips:

Establish Expectations

Setting and sharing expectations for your virtual reunion is important. Establishing event details should include: start and end time, who will be participating, the virtual platform hosting the event, and other relevant information that helps others prepare. Communicating this information in advance allows your family members to plan which can prevent potential schedule conflicts and alleviate any stress or anxiety people experience around social gatherings. 

Incorporate Games

Online gatherings can be just as interactive and engaging! Think about what you would typically do during a family reunion and see what can be moved online. Are there any family traditions that you can incorporate? Favorite family games? There are plenty of games and activities you can easily access and play online. You can also ask family members for suggestions. It could be useful to organize this information on an agenda which you can then share with people. This is another great way to let others know what they can expect!

Organize Test Meeting

One of the most critical details of online gatherings is identifying the virtual platform you will be using. It is important to communicate on the platform so that people can download it in advance. This prevents day-of confusion and technical difficulties. A great way to help with this is to run a test meeting which virtual platforms allow you to do fairly easily. This allows people to launch the platform and make sure it is working on their device, familiarize themselves with the technology, explore the settings and functions, as well as practice communicating online. This is especially useful for those family members who are less tech-savvy!

Plan for Communication Needs

Virtual platforms are designed to be convenient and easy to use. But they can also pose specific challenges for people who navigate conditions that impact communication (hearing loss, visual impairments, speech disorders etc.). There are useful ways you can create a virtual environment that is accessible and meets communication needs more effectively. This includes: 

  • Use Video: this may seem obvious but it is a good reminder that people, especially the speaker, should be clearly visible on the screen. This is particularly helpful for people with hearing loss who can read nonverbal cues and mouths to help follow conversations. People should make sure they are in spaces that are well-lit!
  • Use Mute Button: background noise can make it really difficult to hear and focus. This can be particularly challenging when there are multiple screens and background environments in the same virtual meeting. To address this and reduce background noise, people should use the mute button which silences the audio on their screen. This is a great way to cut down on the noise and improve sound quality. 
  • Apply Closed Captions: enable the closed captions feature on your virtual platform which allows for a live transcription of speech. This helps people follow along and catch parts of the conversation they might have missed. 

Be sure to share these communication tips with others so everyone can participate in creating an inclusive environment! 

Add Festive Touches

Lastly, be creative! Use your imagination (or the internet!) to come up with ideas that can make your gathering more festive. A few suggestions include: 

  • Menu: setting a food menu allows you to share the same or a similar meal. This is a great way to include family recipes or favorite family dishes. 
  • Theme: adding a theme to your gathering is another way to engage everyone and add some festiveness.  
  • Décor: you can experiment with the digital backgrounds that platforms offer or even dress up the background in your space. 

Your hearing abilities are crucial to staying connected with your loved ones. If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, contact us today to schedule a hearing test.