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Are you getting ready to host a virtual family reunion? This holiday season you might not be gathering with your whole family in person, but you can have a fun virtual reunion and share the holiday spirit with your loved ones. Here are a few tips to have a successful virtual family reunion.
Learn How to Use Communication Technology
Have you ever hosted an online meeting on Zoom or another platform? These platforms are easy to use, and they’re a great way to connect with family and friends across the country. Before your virtual family reunion, learn how to use this technology so you can have a stress-free online family gathering.
Have a Test Meeting
Chances are some of your family members have never been in an online meeting. These platforms are a bit different than regular video calls, so you’ll want to make sure your whole family knows how to have a virtual meeting.
In the week before your virtual family reunion, invite your family to a test meeting, so that anyone who doesn’t know how to use the platform can try it out before the reunion. You can help your family members log on, switch on their microphones, or turn on their camera. This test meeting helps everyone get on the same page before the reunion, so you won’t have too many technical glitches during your virtual family reunion.
Create a Holiday Schedule
One way to have a successful virtual family reunion is to create a holiday schedule. You can even make this schedule a few days before the meeting, and send it to all your family. Things you can include in the schedule are:
- The reunion start time
- The theme of the reunion
- Any special food you want your family to bring
- Any holiday clothing or crafts to show off on screen
- Any games you want to play
- Holiday music you want to share with the whole family
- Any conversation topics you’d like to cover
- The reunion end time
Having a holiday schedule will give your family reunion some structure, and make the event fun and enjoyable for everyone.
Communicating During Online Meetings
Online communication can be hard for everyone, but especially for any of your family members with hearing loss. Before the meeting, or at the start of the reunion, go over a few communication tips to make sure everyone can follow the conversation during your family reunion. These tips can include:
- Joining the meeting on your computer, not your phone. Having the larger screen will make it easier to see all your family members on the screen. It also keeps the screen stable so it’s easier to see facial expressions.
- Turning on lights in the room. Each family member should make sure their face is well lit, so that all the family can see their face clearly.
- Turning off any background music. Everyone should turn off any background sounds in their home, like the TV, radio, or holiday music. The microphone may pick up this sound and block out the conversation.
- Taking turns talking so you’re not all speaking at once. When you’re meeting in person, it’s possible to have several conversations happening at the same time. But during virtual family reunions only one person can talk at a time. Otherwise, the mic will switch back and forth between the people talking, and it will be impossible to follow what’s being said.
Hearing Aids for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion
If you or one of your family members has hearing loss, hearing aids can help you have a successful virtual family reunion. Turning up the volume on your computer or phone doesn’t necessarily help you follow conversations. Hearing loss makes it much harder to hear higher pitched sounds, like consonants. When you can’t hear all the higher pitched sounds, it’s much harder to hear what’s being said.
Hearing aids make it easier to hear these high-pitched sounds using speech enhancement programs. Not only that, but many hearing aids even have connectivity features that let you stream audio from your computer or phone right to your hearing aids. If you or a loved one has hearing loss, hearing aids can help you hear clearly during your next virtual family reunion.