If you’re connecting with work teams online, these hints can make virtual meetings easier.
With more people working remotely than ever before due to quarantines and shutdowns, previously in-person work meetings have gone virtual. Thanks to video conferencing platforms, you can still connect with your team even when you can’t be together in person. These tips for virtual meetings with hearing loss will help make trading ideas and information easier from afar.
- Agree on mute and lighting guidelines
- Wear hearing aids or noise-canceling headphones
- Adjust your audio during the hellos
- Take turns speaking
- Turn on captioning if available
- Record the video to review afterward
- Use the chat function
- Ask for an interpreter
Below, we’ll get into more detail on how to implement these tips for virtual meetings with hearing loss.
Agree on mute and lighting guidelines
If your team hasn’t already established general guidelines on how to meet virtually, bring it up with them or your manager to make the experience go smoothly for everyone. For instance, ask everyone to mute their microphones when they aren’t speaking to reduce the cumulative background noise from different environments. If you usually rely on speech-reading or facial expressions, it also helps if the team knows to have good lighting, so their faces are easily visible.
Wear hearing aids or noise-canceling headphones
Another one of our tips for virtual meetings with hearing loss is to reduce background noise on your end. By directing all the audio straight to your ears, you can block other sounds in your house or outdoors. You can sync tools such as a Bluetooth® hearing aid or assistive device to the laptop, tablet, or phone you’re using. If you don’t wear a hearing aid, a pair of noise-canceling headphones can serve a similar purpose.
Adjust your audio during the hellos
If you’re not sure what settings and volume let you hear best, plan to tweak them during the first few minutes of the meeting while everyone is saying their pleasantries. If you’re using a program like Zoom, familiarize yourself with its adjustable audio and video settings and how to test your mic and speaker.
Take turns speaking
In a video chat, it can be difficult for everyone to time their speaking, so there are no interruptions. However, there’s a trick for virtual meetings with hearing loss that can minimize those awkward moments when people speak at the same time. If your video software shows when your coworkers’ have muted their speakers, you can keep an eye on the screen to see when someone clicks off mute, showing they’re about to say something. When the speaker is the only person with an unmuted mic, the chances of multiple people talking at once are lower.
Turn on captioning if available
Another tip for virtual meetings with hearing loss is to find out whether live closed captioning is available on your video chatting platforms. See the instructions for enabling captioning on Zoom here. While it’s not automatically available for all meetings, this is a good topic to discuss with whoever is running your work calls or handling the software.
Record the video to review afterward
If you’re concerned about missing something important during a virtual meeting, there’s often the option to record the meeting video so you can go back later to check or remind yourself. On Zoom, participants must have permission from the meeting host to record video or audio, so discuss this option before the meeting if it’s something you’d like to try.
Use the chat function
If there’s something you didn’t catch during the meeting, ask meeting participants to use the chat function, if it’s available for your meeting platform. This handy feature lets you exchange real-time written messages during a live video call.
Ask for an interpreter (if needed)
If it would be helpful, arrange for an ASL interpreter to be part of the video call. The interpreter can be in his/her own window to provide you with visual support if you can’t hear the words people are saying on the call.
We hope these tips for virtual meetings with hearing loss help you stay productive as you’re staying safe at home. If your work calls can be held via a phone call instead of video, the CapTel line of captioned telephones can help you navigate them with ease.