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For many of us, the holidays will be looking different this year with more gatherings happening online. If you plan on connecting with family and friends virtually, you may be thinking about how you can organize a fun reunion!
By planning in advance and setting expectations you can have a successful online family reunion. A few key tips include the following:
Setting and sharing expectations is an important way to avoid schedule conflicts, confusion, and social anxiety! These details should include the event time (start and end), virtual platform, and other pieces of relevant information: do people need to “bring” anything? Are you sharing a meal? Are supplies needed for any games? Communicating these expectations allows others to effectively prepare for the reunion and reduces potential stress associated with get-togethers!
Organize an Agenda
Virtual reunions can be a great substitute for in-person gatherings with a little planning! It is helpful to think through ways you can translate any family traditions on an online platform. There are numerous board games and interactive activities that can be easily played online.
You can also ask family members for suggestions, do an internet search, or create your own games! Once you have identified what you would like to do during the reunion, compiling this information on an agenda is a useful way to organize the event. You can also share the agenda prior to the reunion which also helps with setting expectations and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
Run Practice Meeting
One of the most important details is choosing the virtual platform for your family gathering! With numerous options, identify and communicate which platform will host the reunion and share this information in advance. This allows people to download it in advance and make sure it is working properly. Most platforms also let you run a test meeting which is a great way to familiarize yourself and others with the technology and various settings. This is especially helpful for people who may be less tech-savvy or unfamiliar with communicating virtually.
Meet Communication Needs
Virtual platforms are a great way to connect with family and friends. Though they are designed to be convenient communication tools, they can present unique challenges for people who have specific hearing and visual needs. If you have family members who navigate hearing loss, speech or language disorders, or other conditions that impact communication; it is important to make sure that the virtual space is accessible and inviting. There are a few adjustments you can make to create an accessible environment including:
- Use Video: visibility is really important for effective communication, especially for people who have hearing loss. People should appear on screen, clearly, so that others can better hear and follow what is being said. Being able to see the speaker allows people to read nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language which helps people follow the conversation. Be sure that the space you are in is well lit so your face can be well seen.
- Use Mute Button: background noise can make hearing challenging. With multiple people attending a virtual gathering, noise can accumulate and be distracting. A helpful way to minimize background noise is by using the mute button when you are not speaking. This offers better sound quality, helping people focus on the speaker.
- Avoid Multitasking: another way to minimize unwanted background noise and distractions is to avoid multitasking. This includes texting, opening other browsers, having the television on etc. Focusing on being fully present also helps others to do the same!
Share ways that everyone’s communication needs can be met, helpful reminders support creating an optimal environment.
Yes, online gatherings are not the same as in-person parties but they can still be a great alternative that allow people to spend quality time with one another! Get creative to make your family reunion festive. A few ideas to create an engaging experience are:
- Food: establish a menu so people can still share a meal together, incorporate any family recipes and favorites!
- Décor: explore using digital backgrounds that virtual platforms often offer.
- Theme: think about having a themed gathering – ugly sweater maybe?
The best way to stay connected and in contact with your loved ones is to ensure your best hearing health! If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, contact us today to schedule a hearing test.