Table of Contents

When technology attacks (Virtual Training Edition)

A lot of people are anxious about virtual delivery because of the things that can go wrong. Here are some ways to mitigate those anxieties.
when technology attacks

What happens if there’s some sort of technological glitch (or worse, a catastrophic freezing up of your computer) when you’re delivering a virtual session?

A few weeks ago, my colleague Lauren Wescott offered a series of virtual sessions focused on the role of a producer. A producer exists to ensure your presenter can focus wholeheartedly on presenting information and engaging the participants.

One important way a producer can do this is by helping troubleshoot issues with the technology while the facilitator focuses on delivering a high quality session. Below is a guide that may help you identify some potential issues your participants are having specifically with Zoom (we’re working on a similar job aid for other platforms).

Screenshot 2021 01 22 101308

One of the most important things to realize when delivering virtual sessions is that not all devices were created equal. Some devices play more nicely with Zoom (and other platforms) than other devices. If you’re wondering why someone can’t join a breakout room, you may want to check to see if they’re using a Chromebook. If someone can’t find the annotation tools, you may want to see if they’re on a tablet.

Beyond the variety of devices you’ll need to keep in mind, there are also some common things that can go wrong for which you’ll want to be prepared. In her webinar, Lauren outlined the following situations:

Your screen says that you have launched your poll but participants aren’t seeing it pop up.

This happens. It happened to us during several practice runs (and boy were we glad we had practiced and prepared for this). There are several ways you can work around this challenge.

First, you may just ask people to chat their “vote” in the chat space.

Second, if it’s a simple poll (such as “yes” or “no”), you may simply ask participants to use the Feedback Indicators, which are typically found in your attendee/participant list.

Third, you could quickly read the choices and ask participants to use the annotation/on-screen text function to type out their vote.

You’ve launched your breakout rooms but you notice that 6 participants got left behind… and can’t seem to get into the breakout rooms to which they’ve been assigned.

Most people we’ve spoken with have agreed that in this situation, you simply use the main room as the new breakout room.

Your facilitator is in the middle of an activity using the annotation tool. Mary private chats you that she can’t find the annotation tool.

Going back to the chart above, not all systems support the annotation function, and when you’re using a tablet, the icon to access the annotation tool looks different.

If someone isn’t able to locate or access the annotation function, this could be a time when you simply ask them to chat their thoughts to you, and you can write their thoughts on the screen. If there are several people who cannot access the annotation function, they can still chat their thoughts to you, though you may not have time to transcribe their thoughts on the screen using annotation, and may just have to announce their thoughts when there is a break in the action.

You emailed out the worksheets for the session ahead of time. When your facilitator starts referencing the worksheets, a number of people say in the chat that they don’t have the worksheets.

In this situation, you can upload a file or copy/paste a link to the handouts in the chat function. You may also choose to share the worksheet on your screen using your Share Screen function.

You may also be able to try to email participants once again (and be sure they check their spam folders).

You notice that the participants are using chat a lot, and there are a number of “side conversations” breaking out in the chat space (almost like people whispering to one another in the back of the room during your presentation).

I’ve seen a variety of approaches to this situation. As a producer, you can chime in to re-direct the attention of the “chatters” back to the topic at hand.

On the other hand, sometimes these informal chats – whether in person or online – can lead to some of the most valuable take-aways for attendees. While the chat may be off topic, those engaged in the chat may be stumbling upon a line of conversation and learning they may not have otherwise had an opportunity to engage in. This seems to be a situation in which you’ll need to use your own discretion.

What are some of the technology failures that give you the most anxiety – either things that have happened or things you fear might happen? Share you anxieties in the comment section, and maybe we can come up with some ideas in how to address them!

Looking for some ideas on which activities/features of your virtual training platform will align with your learning objectives. Here is a post featuring a handy chart that maps learning objectives to a variety of features (polls, on-screen drawing, breakout rooms, chat, etc).


Interested to learn how Soapbox is preparing trainers to meet training challenges?

Instructor-Led Training Resources

These are some of our favorite resources to support everyone involved with instructor-led training.

Training Delivery and Facilitation Competency Rubric

A rubric is a way to assess performance with a standard set of evaluation criteria. The next time you need to assess the performance of someone delivering training (even if that someone is you), you may find this rubric helpful.

The Role of Co-facilitators

Co-facilitators play an important role in a training workshop. The most obvious benefit is that when you co-facilitate, you get a break from leading the

18 Instructor-led Training Activities

Engaging, intentional, face-to-face and virtual instructor-led training activities can make the difference between a session that helps learners to apply new skills or knowledge and one that falls flat.

Articles Similar to When technology attacks (Virtual Training Edition)

Nate Martin on Escape Room designs for training
Instructional Design
Brian Washburn

Instructional Design & Escape Room Design

If you’ve ever been to an escape room, you can observe what a group of highly engaged people look like for 60 straight minutes. Is there a way to harness escape room design elements and bring them into the world of corporate training?

facilitator competency rubric
Brian Washburn

Training Delivery and Facilitation Competency Rubric

A rubric is a way to assess performance with a standard set of evaluation criteria. The next time you need to assess the performance of someone delivering training (even if that someone is you), you may find this rubric helpful.

instructor becomes the pupil with kassy laborie and zovig garboushian
Brian Washburn

Turning the Tables: From Trainer to Student

As people who have designed and delivered effective training, Kassy Laborie and Zovig Garboushian know a thing or two about good learning experiences. So what nuggets have they gleaned from a 9-month course that they’re both attending, and that all of us should consider when designing our own programs? Today’s podcast answers that question.

John Crook on role play
Brian Washburn

Is this the world’s most effective role play?

When it comes to your training participants, two of the dirtiest, or perhaps scariest, words you can say during a session may be: role play. In today’s podcast, John Crook, Head of Learning at Intersol Global, offers some thoughts on how to make role plays more authentic and robust.

Subscribe to Get Updates from Endurance Learning

Brian Washburn, Author

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll send you the latest updates from our blog. Thanks for following!

training facilitator evaluation rubric - page 2

Download the Facilitator Evaluation Rubric

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the rubric to help you assess the skills of someone delivering training.

Grow your L&D Career Today!

The Foundations of L&D course through the L&D Pro Academy provides the concepts and practical experience you need to grow your confidence and abilities as a well-rounded L&D professional.

Enter your email below and we’ll be in touch with an info sheet!

L&D Pro Academy

Find Your L&D Career Path

Explore the range of careers to understand what role might be a good fit for your L&D career.

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the What’s Possible in L&D Worksheet.

What's possible in L&D

Let's Talk Training!

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn
CEO & Chief Ideas Guy

Enter your information below and we’ll get back to you soon.

Download the Feedback Lesson Plan

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the lesson plan as a PDF.

feedback lesson plan
MS Word Job Aid Template

Download the Microsoft Word Job Aid Template

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the Word version of this template.

Download the Free Lesson Plan Template!

Enter your email below and we’ll send you a Word document that you can start using today!

free lesson plan template
training materials checklist

Download the Training Materials Checklist

Enter your email below and we’ll send you the PDF of the Training Materials Checklist.

Subscribe to Endurance Learning for updates

Get regular updates from the Endurance Learning team.