“We are fortunate that technology today gives us pretty much all the functionality that a classroom environment does (except tea and coffee), so my first tip is to check your IT set-up several days before the training. Make sure your laptop is positioned at the correct height (use a laptop stand if you can) and that there is plenty of light in the room. We don’t all have the same resources as a multi-millionaire YouTuber, but it’s important that the trainer can see you clearly. Don’t forget that everyone will also be able to see what’s behind you, so you might want to hide that Tiger King poster!
My second tip is to make sure that everyone in the house knows that you’ll be on a course. If your son is learning the bagpipes, might be a good idea to restrict his practice times. Most modern headphones will cancel out any sound around you, but it’s worth checking this on a practice call with a friend. If you can’t hide away in a quiet corner of the house, stick up some bright warning signs on the door of the room you’re in – Training in Progress (a bribe works as well). No-one minds if your 7-year-old pops up behind you demanding food and it can bring a bit of light relief, but try and make sure it doesn’t happen too often – plan some activities for them to do while you’re on the training and promise to kick a ball round outside with them at break and lunchtime.
Virtual courses might seem daunting, especially if you’re meeting new people, but everyone quickly relaxes into it so my third tip is don’t be too apprehensive and make the most of it. We always include some fun introduction exercises to break the ice and you might find out that someone else on the course shares your interest in homebrewing or bungee jumping. We use virtual breakout rooms to run exercises on the courses in small groups, so use these as a good opportunity to get to know the other learners.
While the course is underway, my fourth tip is to try and get outside for a few minutes at break and at lunchtime. Breathe in some fresh air – online courses can seem intense because you’re staring at a screen rather than moving around a classroom. The trainer will instinctively know when energy is flagging and schedule breaks accordingly, but if you need a break to answer the door for your wine delivery, send the trainer a private message to let them know that you need to leave for a few minutes.
My final point is to relax, have fun and enjoy the experience, just like you would in a classroom environment. You’re much more likely to remember what PESTLE stands for or how to calculate Earned Value Management if you’ve had some laughs along the way and best of all, at the end of the day you won’t spend hours commuting home.”