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Every trainer has had one of those moments: you’re in the middle of a presentation, building to an important point...and the projector fizzles out. Your engaging slides are replaced by a glaring bright blue screen (usually with an indecipherable error message).
It’s hard not to feel a little frazzled in situations where technology leaves you hanging. But it’s important not to let these (often inevitable) tech issues knock you off track. These tips are designed to help you stay focused, productive, and calm even when it feels like technology is conspiring against you.
A little panic is understandable when your meticulously planned training session hits a technology-based stumbling block. But letting that anxiety take over is just going to knock you further off course.
The trick is to stay calm and keep some perspective. When IT errors hit:
1. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a few seconds to recognize that the error is beyond your control, collect your thoughts, and then move on with your session.
2. Make a joke. A quick quip helps the audience know that, while this technology hiccup wasn’t planned, you’re taking it in stride and the training session is still going to be fantastic. (There’s no shame in preparing your jokes ahead of time.)
Maybe it’s not the projector that throws a monkey wrench into your training session. Maybe your PowerPoint presentation becomes corrupted—or you can’t find the right file. That’s why you need reliable backups. There are a few ways you can create easily accessible redundant files:
3. Print off your PowerPoint notes. That way if your slides crash, you’ll still have all the material you need to deliver your presentation.
4. Email your PowerPoint (and any other necessary documents) to yourself and to colleagues before your training session begins. If your primary file becomes corrupted or you need to switch to a different laptop, you can easily access your backup via email.
5. Store backups in the cloud. No matter where you store your primary files, cloud-based file storage services are a safe and convenient location for your backups.
To a certain degree, technology hiccups are inevitable. We all rely on (and integrate) so much technology into training sessions that, at some point, one or more of those technological features will fail. That’s why it’s essential to have backup plans already in place. Those plans mean you should:
6. Know what you’ll do when your webcam malfunctions during a virtual training session.
7. Have asynchronous activities planned that you can fall back on in case your internet connection fizzles out during a virtual training session.
8. Know how to use the mobile hotspot features on your smartphone. If you have internet connectivity issues due to your ISP, a hotspot can become a critical backup (though you’ll want to talk to your mobile service provider first).
9. Tell learners that all notes and materials will be available online after the training session. Participants will be a bit calmer if they know they’ll still be able to see the PowerPoint you were going to present.
When technological calamities strike, your first instinct may gravitate towards trying to fix the issue immediately—yourself. But that’s likely not the best approach.
10. If you can, troubleshoot the problem during your next break. The last thing learners want to watch is a trainer trying to solve a computer glitch.
11. Know who your tech support is and the best way to contact them.
12. Some technological hiccups may require troubleshooting ASAP (for example, if you lose internet connection during a virtual training session). But usually, if you can go on, consider tabling your desire to fix the issue quickly.
To some degree, every technology issue is going to be a little bit different. So, keep your backup plans flexible. Ultimately, the key to success is preparation: the better prepared you are, the less technology hiccups will get in the way.