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More people are planning on connecting with loved ones virtually for the upcoming holidays. Like most social activities this year, many family reunions will be moving online as we continue to navigate the pandemic. Virtual gatherings can be a great way to spend quality time with others and don’t have to be any less festive! There are several ways you can organize a successful family reunion online. A few tips to consider while planning include the following:
Establishing and communicating shared expectations is incredibly important for all gatherings. This should include: start and end time, virtual platform details, attendees, and other relevant information. Sharing this information allows people to be on the same page and more comfortable with the plans. This can prevent possible schedule conflicts, confusion, and stress associated with preparing for social gatherings.
Take time to do some planning: what activities can you all play? Are there family traditions that can be moved online? Any favorite games that are usually played? Many virtual platforms feature games that can be easily accessed. There are also plenty of interactive activities that you can find online and incorporate into your reunion! You can also ask family members and friends for ideas. Having a dynamic agenda that includes a range of engaging activities can really create an exciting experience.
Run Practice Meeting
A significant detail of any online reunion is identifying the virtual platform that will be hosting your gathering! With several available platforms, you have numerous choices so be sure to select the one that is best for you (and your family). Be sure to share the platform ahead of time so that others can download in advance. A useful way to prevent future technical difficulties or mishaps is to run a test meeting. Most platforms allow you to run a test meeting which provides people the opportunity to get familiar with the settings and features of the platform. This is particularly useful for people who are less tech-savvy or do not use virtual communication platforms often.
Plan for Communication Needs
Virtual communication platforms are designed to be convenient and user friendly. But they can also present specific challenges for people who navigate conditions that impact communication: hearing loss, visual impairments, speech disorders etc. It is important to anticipate and plan ways to meet the range of communication needs your friends and family may have. There are a few ways you can create a virtual space that is accessible to everyone:
- Use Video: visibility is a crucial part of virtual communication. It is important for people to clearly appear on screen, especially when speaking. Being able to see the speaker’s nonverbal communication – body language, facial expressions – in addition to reading mouths are ways that people can better hear and follow the conversation. This is particularly useful for people with hearing loss who use these cues to maximize hearing and understanding.
- Reduce Noise: background noise can make it challenging to hear. With larger gatherings online and multiple screens, you are forced to contend with more background noise. An effective way to address this is to use the mute button which allows people to mute their audio. People should mute their audio when they are not speaking.
- Avoid Multitasking: multitasking is another potential source of background noise and distraction. Be sure to avoid things like texting, watching television, opening other browsers etc. Multitasking, when not related to the gathering, can prevent people from being fully present and engaged.
By practicing and sharing these tips with others, it can create an environment that supports everyone’s participation!
There are many ways to make your family reunion festive and fun! Avoid feeling limited by the online format by channeling your creativity. A few tips to create a dynamic experience include:
- Establish Menu: you can still share a meal with others virtually by establishing a menu beforehand. This is also a great way to incorporate favorite family dishes!
- Add Décor: explore the digital backgrounds that virtual platforms offer to add splash.
- Set a Theme: add a theme to your gathering! This is a fun way to connect with your family.
One very important way to stay connected with your loved ones is to ensure your best hearing health. If you’ve experienced changes to your hearing abilities, it is important to take a hearing test. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.