Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

In Communication, Tips & Tricks by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

The scene is set with savory dishes elaborately prepared, decorations festively adorning the room, and familiar tunes floating through the air. What could be missing this year? None other than the virtual platform where family members will arrive at the party! 

This year’s family reunions will no doubt look different than prior years, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the opportunity to reconnect with family around the world. 

Videoconferencing might not translate the scent of your traditional meals, but it can make it possible to converse with loved ones, see how children have grown, and even to play a game together. With a little planning, this virtual event can be a memorable one, set apart from the parties in the past. 

However, without proper preparation, these events can leave family members frustrated, and this year is no time to add any stress or discomfort. The following tips will make it possible to have a successful virtual family reunion that you can recall lovingly in the years to come when we will resume meeting in person.

Planning is Key

If you decide to try a videoconference on the day of the event, some people will easily be able to jump on the call, particularly those whose lives have already shifted to remote work and learning. However, those who are new to videoconferencing might be worried about a last-minute struggle with the interface. 

If you are interested in a virtual family reunion this year, careful planning and communication will make it enjoyable for all involved. Take the opportunity days before the planned event to make sure all of your loved ones have the appropriate software downloaded and know how to sign on. 

You can assist them with choosing the right location at home, usually close to the Wi-Fi router, if possible. Bright lighting is best, making it possible to see the facial expressions of speakers and to watch their mouths moving in concert with the sound of their voices. 

Try a test call with anyone who is new to video conferencing, testing out the audio functioning, making sure the Internet connection is stable, and learning how to use all the necessary features. 

Set Clear Expectations

For some families, an hour will be sufficient to see and hear from everyone and experience that moment of connection. Others will want to set up a longer call, perhaps including a meal and even a game of some kind. Still others have become comfortable with setting up a video call in the room and proceeding to go about the business of the day, whether it is getting creative with crafts, cooking traditional foods, or simply cleaning up. 

These everyday experiences tend to be the most intimate way to share our lives, and the casual nature of hanging out makes us feel more connected than a formal meeting. Whichever approach you choose for the family reunion, make it clear to all involved prior to the event. 

Setting a general expectation of the timeline is helpful, particularly if you will be eating together or staging some other event. Make it clear to all members, particularly those who are new to the platform, that is okay to step away for a while and return refreshed. These interfaces can be taxing if you are devoting your attention for a long period of time. 

Above all, remind the participants in a larger group that it is helpful to mute your microphones when you are not talking. The background sounds of pets, children, or an oven timer going off can distract from the person speaking. 

Easy Listening

If you have a family member with hearing loss, take steps to make it easier to hear. In addition to the practical tips already mentioned, you might want to investigate real-time captioning in the interface or through a third-party provider. 

Crosstalk tends to be the biggest struggle, so encourage the participants to gesture prior to chiming in. Beyond these practical tips, the long-lasting solution for your loved one with hearing loss will be to seek treatment from our hearing health professionals! 

Hearing aids can work wonders not only for in-person events, parties, and social gatherings, but also for virtual family reunions this year. Contact us today to learn more about how hearing loss treatment can help you stay connected!