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Are you planning on connecting with family and friends virtually during the upcoming holidays? Like many aspects of life this year, more social gatherings are moving online. Virtual reunions are a great way to connect with others and can still allow people to share quality time. As you plan your virtual family reunions, there are a few new factors to consider: what can you do together and remotely, how can you include any family traditions, and accommodate everyone’s needs.
Here are a few useful tips you can practice to have a successful gathering!
Like all gatherings, it is important to identify and communicate the event details: time, virtual platform, who will be participating, and any activities that people should be prepared for. Sharing this information can prevent schedule conflicts, confusion, and lets people know what they can expect. This is also beneficial because it reduces any anxiety or stress people may experience around family reunions.
Create an Agenda
Spending time in advance to think about and plan your virtual reunion can be fun and incredibly helpful. Getting together with people online can include just as many activities and excitement as in person reunions. What are the games you can play? Are there family traditions that can be translated to an online format? What are other activities that your family usually enjoys? You can ask others for suggestions and look into the options for games that many virtual platforms offer. After you have identified these details, a useful way to keep track and share this information is to create an agenda.
Organize Practice Meeting
One of the most critical details is which virtual platform you are using! It is important to choose and communicate the platform that everyone should download in advance. This prevents any confusion and day of technical difficulties! A useful way to get familiar with the technology is to run a test meeting which many virtual platforms offer. This is a great way to test that everything is working properly and to explore different settings. Organizing a practice meeting is especially helpful for people who are less tech-savvy or who have not yet integrated virtual communication tools into daily living!
Plan for Communication Needs
Another important factor to consider is communication needs. Though virtual platforms are convenient, they can also present unique challenges for people who navigate conditions that impact communication – hearing loss, speech and language disorders, visual impairments etc. You can create an accessible virtual environment that encourages everyone’s full participation by:
- Use Video: visibility helps facilitate effective communication. People should appear clearly on screen, especially when they are speaking. This helps others hear better as well as have access to nonverbal communication (facial expressions, body language) which are ways people follow a conversation. Adjust your lighting so that you appear clearly on the screen and others can easily see you.
- Mute Button: reducing background noise as much as possible is another strategy that helps others hear. Though this can be more challenging with multiple people in different settings, using the mute button is an effective way to eliminate unwanted noise. Have others mute the audio on their screen when they are not talking which makes it easier to hear the speaker and follow along.
- Avoid Multitasking: multitasking can also create more noise and be distracting. Avoid texting, watching television, having appliances on in the background, cooking etc. This supports you being fully present for the reunion as well as helps others focus on the conversation.
There are different ways you can make virtual gatherings engaging and fun! Be sure to use your imagination and creativity when putting together the agenda. Here are a few tips:
- Menu: you can set up a menu so that you and your family can enjoy the same meal. This is also a good way to incorporate any family recipe or traditions around food.
- Décor: several virtual platforms offer digital backgrounds that you can use to add a fun detail.
- Theme: think about having a festive theme that everyone can easily participate in.
Don’t hesitate to add fun touches that you and your family can enjoy!
One very important element of keeping in touch with your loved ones is hearing at your best! If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.