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This year’s holiday celebrations might look a bit different than in other years. You may not be able to have a large in-person family gathering, so instead you’re planning a virtual family get together. Communicating online isn’t quite the same as communicating face to face, so here are a few tips for a successful virtual family reunion.
Pick a Date and Time
Do you normally have the family over all weekend, or have people coming and going throughout the day? When you’re hosting an online gathering, you’ll need to set a specific date and time. Pick a date that works for everyone, and schedule a start and end time for the meeting. This way everyone will be on the same page, and ready to celebrate together.
Keeping Your Family Traditions Going
Just because your event is moving online doesn’t mean you have to abandon your family traditions. Before the meeting, think about the traditions you value the most, like sharing food, listening to music, telling stories, or playing games. Then think about how you can incorporate these in your online family reunion.
You can ask family members to make a favorite food to eat during the reunion, or ask some family members to prepare stories ahead of time. Games like Pictionary can be played on a video call, or you can even find an online game to play together. If you have some holiday music you’d like to share, pick a couple of songs, and set aside time to listen to the songs with your family. With a little preparation, you can bring your family traditions online.
Get Familiar with the Technology
Is everyone in your family used to having online meetings? Does everyone know how to log into meetings, adjust their cameras, or turn on their mics? Before your virtual family reunion, take some time to get familiar with the technology. If you’ve never hosted a meeting, make sure you know the ins and outs of starting a meeting and inviting participants.
If some members of your family have never been in an online meeting, you can host a test meeting to give everyone a chance to try it out. You’ll get practice starting a meeting, and your family members can get more tech savvy before the big day. Having a test meeting alleviates some of the stress on the day of your virtual family reunion, and will help the reunion go off without a hitch.
It’s no secret that communicating online is harder than communicating in person. The network connection isn’t always perfect, and might drop some words or blur the image. It’s also harder to make out facial expressions, or see other body language. If you have a loved one with hearing loss, it’s important to talk about communicating online with the whole family. These are some ways you can make communicating online easier:
- Ask everyone to join the meeting on their computers rather than their phones. The larger screen will make it easier to see everyone on screen.
- Ask your family to adjust the camera at the beginning of the meeting, and then leave it alone. If the computer is getting moved or passed around, it’s much harder to see who’s speaking or to understand what’s being said.
- Ask everyone to sit in a well-lit room, with their face clearly visible in the light. This will help everyone on the call see facial expressions, follow conversations, and feel more connected during the reunion.
- Avoid putting on any holiday backgrounds. Some meeting platforms let you add backgrounds, but for a family reunion it’s best to leave the background alone. Digital backgrounds can create an edge around the speaker, blur in and out of focus, and be distracting for anyone struggling to follow the conversation.
Encourage Your Loved One to Get a Hearing Test
Do you have a loved one with hearing loss? Before your virtual family reunion, encourage your loved one to schedule a hearing test with us. If your loved one has hearing loss, treating their hearing loss with hearing aids will help them hear clearly. They’ll enjoy the online family reunion, and hear clearly during any other challenging listening settings in their daily life.