Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

Tips for a Successful Virtual Family Reunion

audseo Community, Tips and Tricks

The year 2020 has truly presented us with new and different ways of navigating the world and our traditions. While it has been the tradition for many to travel to be together with family and friends for the holiday season this year the CDC recommends staying at home to limit the chance of spreading COVID-19. 

If you are planning to stay home this year, this does not mean you have to completely cancel the tradition of a family reunion. This year at least 24% of Americans plan to hold their family reunions virtually online. Many of us have never had to celebrate in this manner before and planning a reunion online may seem daunting. No need to worry! Here are a few tips to make sure your virtual family reunion is enjoyable and stress free this holiday season.

Finding the Best Platform for Your Reunion

This year video conferencing programs have seen a surge in popularity. With this demand comes better access and higher video resolution. Still, not every video conferencing platform is equal. Here are a few that seem to be the most accessible for family reunions. 

  • Zoom: Offering free calls for up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes, this platform is great for large families and online parties. For a reasonably priced monthly subscription you can hold meetings without the time.
  • Google Meet: This service is free as long as every member has a gmail account (also free). One of the most valuable features of this app is a real time voice to text translators, which displays real time captioning. This allows members of the family with hearing issues the ability to follow along and participate in conversation.
  • GoToMeeting: This platform claims to have the highest sound and video resolution with tools like a hand raising feature allowing members to respond to polls quickly. However this platform is costly and is subscribed to yearly making it a good investment only if you plan on holding large virtual gatherings regularly. 

Deal with Technical Issues Before Hand

There is nothing more frustrating than getting everyone together on the screen for the holidays only to deal with technical issues the entire time. While technical issues happen, when you prepare ahead of time, this allows you to focus on being together on the big day. 

Plan a test call earlier in the week to make sure that everyone’s microphone and camera is working. Make sure everyone’s space is well lit and they understand how to use all the features. This can be particularly helpful for members of the family with hearing impairments. Make sure their captions are turned on. Many hearing aids can stream computer audio directly to their hearing aids via Bluetooth.

Set Boundaries

It’s important for everyone to have a general sense of what is expected.  For instance having a firm beginning and end time can allow everyone to plan to be there when it’s time. Consider time zone differences to find the best time for everyone.  

Make sure that everyone understands that background noise can cause feedback on a call with 20 plus participants. This can be a nightmare for individuals with hearing issues, but with that level of noise, no one can carry on conversation. Suggest that people mute their microphones unless they intend to speak to limit this kind of feedback. 

Make a Schedule 

In addition to setting a beginning and end time it is incredibly helpful to have a schedule set up ahead of time and activities prepared. Planning ahead ensures that everyone can feel included in the online festivities, no matter their age. Consider sharing a family slideshow, holding contests, going around sharing intentions for the next year, sharing stories and trivia games to keep people engaged. 

Delegate Responsibility

Just because you organized this reunion doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself. Make sure to delegate responsibility to avoid virtual holiday burnout. Appoint one person in charge of technical issues, one person in charge of games, one person in charge of a slide show and one person the host. This allows more people to feel included in the spirit of the holiday season. Remember that just because we can meet in person that this year can still help us remember that we are not alone during the holidays.