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4 Tips to Hear Better in Virtual Meetings and Gatherings

woman with hair swaying in wind cupping hand to ear

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual meetings and gatherings have become an integral part of the US work environment. However, though remote meetings are a considerable improvement from the traditional audio-only conference calls, it's far from perfect. These are some of the primary issues associated with videoconferencing, from poor internet, distracting noises and people talking over each other to the muffled voices of team leaders who turn away from their web camera.

By implementing simple tips, those with hearing loss can hold effective virtual meetings without hearing loss.

Spend Time Preparing

The first step is to spend time ensuring that your online meeting software works smoothly with your hearing aid instruments. Arriving in the meeting earlier will also give you plenty of time to iron out any technical issues that may occur. It also gives you time to explore the conference platform beforehand, thus building familiarity and confidence.  

It includes doing a little reading about the software and checking instructional videos from users.

Ensure that you also have a stable internet connection because connection issues make the viewing experience unpleasant, and it also translates into poor captioning and lousy audio quality. Though it's not a guarantee of a problem-free event, preparing eliminates most of the technical problems that could arise.

Use Live-Captioning Tools

Large events may account for a team of professional live captioning or sign language interpretations. However, for small local meet ups, you can opt for online-live captioning tools. With superb audio quality, stable internet and minimal background noise, this is a good option for better understanding. 

You can also choose to turn off the closed caption and consider utilizing the real-time chat option to clarify various points and ask follow-up questions.

Advocate for Yourself

Always communicate with your employer if you are struggling to hear or understand. You can further let them know how best they can help you be part of the information, updates and assignments during and after the meeting. You can ask the facilitator to set the following ground rules for all attendees:

  • Start with an introduction: The virtual meeting should start with a few minutes for general acquaintance. This time allows people to update each other on issues unrelated to the meeting agenda before focusing on the specific topic of the day. In addition, people with hearing loss can use this time to ensure that they can hear everyone clearly and to adjust the equipment if there is a need.
  • Advise all speakers to hold their virtual meetings in a well-lit space: A well-lit environment makes it easy for people with hearing loss to read the speakers' lips and utilize facial expressions in their listening.
  • Use video: A virtual meeting makes it possible for people with hearing loss to utilize visual cues to understand the conversation better. A webcam works better when the lighting is in front of you, and it makes facial features more visible for better use of visual cues.
  • Quiet environment: It's also essential to ensure that you hold your virtual meeting in a calm environment. You do not want to have people crashing into the room or various noises distracting you during a virtual meeting.
  • Record meeting: Facilitators can record visual meetings with ease because it's a virtual event held on an online platform. Recording creates an excellent opportunity for participants with hearing loss to re-watch the meetings for clarification on various matters.
  • Encourage the use of shareable materials such as slides during the virtual meeting: Reference materials allow people with hearing loss to get more information on specific areas that they could not understand because it wasn't clear enough. You can also ask to have the slides in advance to get a head start on the meeting contents without straining to listen.

Utilize High-Quality Hearing Technology

Today, several sophisticated hearing aids make it possible to receive audio from other sources such as laptops, phones and computers and more directly to your ear. As a result, you can take advantage of the functionality to improve your experience in virtual meetings.

Ensure that you have a headphone and if possible, a microphone. It's possible to use the internal speaker and microphone on your computer during a virtual meeting. However, external headphones and microphones guarantee a better quality of audio. 

If you are planning on participating in a virtual meeting soon, contact Affordable Hearing today at Irmo: 803-749-6017, Orangeburg and Santee at 803-531-6403 to learn more about the hearing instruments to keep your hearing at its best.