Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunions

Are you having a virtual holiday celebration this year? You might not be gathering in person with all your family and friends, but don’t let that stop you from connecting with your loved ones. One great way to spend time with your family is to have a virtual family reunion online. Here are a few tips to help your meeting off without a hitch.

Planning Ahead

Are holiday celebrations at your home very laid back? Maybe your family drops in when they can, and leave when the grandkids get tired. However, if you’re hosting a virtual family reunion this year, you’ll need to plan ahead so that you can all connect at the same time. Set a start time and an end time, so everyone knows the expectations before the family reunion.

If you want your family members to prepare anything for the family reunion, ask them ahead of time so they won’t be in a rush. You can ask your family to cook a favorite holiday treat to show off during the meeting, ask the kids to make a craft or color a picture to share, or ask some family members to prepare games or activities to share during the virtual family reunion.

Try it Out Ahead of Time

Before you host a virtual family reunion, take the time to try out your program ahead of time. If you’re using Zoom or another meeting platform, make sure you know how to set up a meeting and invite participants. Don’t leave it to the last minute to figure out how it all works.

Do you have family members who aren’t very comfortable online? They might need a little help to get used to chatting online. You can invite your family to a test meeting sometime before the family reunion and work out all the kinks. You’ll be able to go over the program with them, show them how to turn on their microphone, and make sure they know how to join the meeting on the day of the family reunion.

Make Sure Everyone Can Communicate

Nearly 50 million Americans have hearing loss, and 1 in 3 seniors over the age of 65 have some level of hearing loss. This means that there’s probably at least one person in your family who can’t hear as well as they used to. For anyone with hearing loss, a virtual family reunion can seem like a challenge. However, there are some things you can do to make sure the whole family can communicate.

  • Ask everyone to set up for the virtual family reunion in a bright room. Turn on all the lights in that room, and add a lamp if it’s not bright enough. Having the meeting in a bright room makes it easier to see everyone’s faces. You’ll be able to see who is speaking, and notice more facial expressions.
  • Ask everyone to speak one at a time. When everyone talks at the same time, the audio from the call will jump from person to person, and you won’t be able to understand what anyone has said. Ask your family to take turns speaking. You can even incorporate a hand gesture, like raising a hand, to show that they have something to say.
  • Ask everyone to turn off any background noise, like the TV or holiday music. This is especially important for family members with hearing loss. When there’s background noise, it is harder to focus on the meeting, and hear whoever is speaking.
  • Ask everyone to avoid using a background. It might sound fun to put on a holiday background, but these can sometimes distort the image, and they make it harder for family members to follow conversations.

Treating Hearing Loss

If you have a family member with hearing loss, this holiday season is the perfect time to show them that you care. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids is one of the best ways to enjoy a great holiday season, both on and offline. Encourage your loved one to get hearing aids before the family reunion, and enjoy a successful virtual family reunion where the whole family can hear.