Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

In Communication, Tips & Tricks by Roselynn Gamboa Young, Au.D., CCC-A

Roselynn Gamboa Young, Au.D., CCC-A

With the holiday season upon us, you are probably planning events this year that look quite different from those in the past. Understanding and staging successful virtual events is a skill unto itself and a good one to learn this year. With a little planning, your online events can capture the joy and preserve family traditions in a way that ensures everyone has a safe and healthy holiday.

Plan It Right

Online gatherings don’t just happen. Like in-person festivities, they require a bit of planning to ensure everyone has a great time. Your first step is to consider how many people you are going to invite – will your event be a large gathering or an intimate reunion? For virtual get-togethers with close family, we recommend working out the date and time with everyone involved well in advance. 

Remember, for online events you may have to take into consideration multiple time zones. Try to find a time that is comfortable for everyone. You’ll also want to make sure that everyone understands the technology they will need to access. If the apps or programs you will be using are new to some family members, try to meet with them a little ahead of your gathering to do a “sound check” and work out any bugs or questions.

Once you have your event time worked out, make a rough timeline for the shared activities your gathering will include. Think about whether you want to coordinate a shared meal or perhaps a gift opening moment everyone partakes in. Maybe the important thing is focussing on the conversation, like a family check-in, or sharing stories from the past. 

With virtual events, longer isn’t necessarily better. It can be hard to concentrate on screens for more than two hours without losing focus. If your event lineup can’t fit into a shorter format, it may be a better idea to coordinate multiple shorter events than one long one. Setting a start and end time is always a good idea with virtual events, it helps people feel engaged.

Carry On Traditions

Traditions often form the core of a family get-together. Whether that means passing along generations-old recipes or playing the latest video game together, traditions help connect and bond us. Just because your plans have gone online, doesn’t mean you have to forgo your family traditions. After all, if there’s one thing 2020 has shown us, it is how to adapt. 

Virtual connections can help you coordinate the traditions you carry on in person. If you decorate your home or dress festively for the season, a virtual family reunion can include a tour of house decor. Seasonal preparations can go online as well with group meetups to craft or cook together. Just be sure to send out a list of ingredients or supplies everyone will need to participate from their home. Cooking and crafting as part of an online event is a great way to carry on group traditions even when you can’t be with your loved ones.

More modern traditions like playing family games or watching movies together can come online as well. This year try networked games and streaming movies that can be played or viewed across distance. Online board games from beloved classics to new upstarts have introduced online formats that can be smoothly played by a large group.

Hearing Better This Season

Online virtual gatherings may not be ideal, but they have offered many people something special in terms of accessibility. For people with hearing loss or deafness, video conferencing has offered a whole new range of features to help them comprehend speech and participate – frequently better than many real life situations. 

Virtual gatherings often highlight or emphasize a speaker when they are talking, making it easier for a person with hearing loss to track a conversation and read lips to help better understand what is said. Video conferencing platforms are also offering live-captioning features which use speech recognition technology to caption a conversation as it happens. With so many interactions moving online this year, this accessibility technology has grown in leaps and bounds. 

Finally, loved ones using hearing aids may be able to stream audio from their computer or device directly to their hearing aids, delivering a focused, amplified sound for better understanding. 

The most important element of staying in touch with loved ones is good hearing! If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing test.