It's Monday morning and you know what that means? Your virtual platforms service provider did a system update, your phone bridge software installed a bug fix, and none of your workshop participants checked their computer system before the program. Sound familiar? It's what we call gremlins in the system!
Virtual training gremlins are pesky. Sometimes they appear without warning, but most of the time we can anticipate them and plan for them. We have to be doubly prepared. It could be Monday, Tuesday or the first virtual program of the week. So what do we recommend before that initial virtual program of the week?
Plan more time and patience
If you typically login 30 minutes prior to participants, plan on a logging in a full hour before the program starts. If you know there were software upgrades, make it longer. There may be new add-ins that have to be installed. The closer to show, the more rattled your nerves will be. You want to be able to make time for a calming breath before you start.
Prepare for participant challenges
If you know that there will be new add-ins for participants to login to the virtual classroom, send them a message with instructions as soon as you can. Recheck the audio bridge and dialing instructions to ensure they can call in. Have a backup like VoIP or computer audio as a last resort.
Expect the unexpected during the program
Both the instructor and producer need to closely monitor the room. If a lot of people are getting dropped from the room, audio is poor, or big lags occur in the network, you need to take corrective action. This is where having your backup computer is crucial. You need to know what the participants see and be ready to shift seamlessly to your backup if YOU get thrown out.
Gremlins come with the virtual territory. The key is to be early, proactive, and respond seamlessly. As our senior producer always says, "Sometimes you need to just take a breath and go with the flow."