5 Secrets for Online Training Success

Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert LandscapeAttending a live, online training class? Want to get the most out of it? Here’s how.

I’ve been doing live, online training for over ten years, and have seen what works and what doesn’t. This post is about what works, why it works, and what you can expect if you choose to take a live, online class with a less than optimal setup.

So why are they secrets? Maybe because training companies are concerned with maximizing training revenue, rather than maximizing the learning experience. Put too many barriers to training in place, and you’ll likely have less students in class. Fair enough…so treat this information much like Captain Barbossa treated the Pirate Code in Pirates of the Caribbean: “The Code is more what you’d call “guidelines” than actual rules!”

Of course, if you were referred to this post by a training company or trainer, you’re already likely in good hands.

Use a good connection

The success of your online training experience relies on the quality of your connection with the instructor, especially if you’re using a computer headset, or VOIP (Voice Over IP).

  • Use a hard-wired connection, not wireless. Otherwise, avoid complaining that your screen isn’t keeping up, or that your audio isn’t working properly!
  • Install your software locally, and do not work via a VPN connection. When using any sort of remote operation of a computer, you more than double the delay of the connection, decreasing your chances of keeping up with the material.

Use two monitors

In a virtual class, you’re likely to be asked to follow along with the exercises. With only one monitor, you’ll need to flip back and forth between the presentation/visuals and your own work. If you need to, log into the meeting with a second computer or tablet in order to view the presentation.

Avoid a common room with a projector for viewing instructor presentations. The better online instructors will be using student computers to coach or demonstrate material, and a typical classroom projector setup will not allow for this.

Arrange for an appropriate environment

Work in a noisy environment? How about one where conversations need to be kept to a minimum? Either way, you won’t be able to participate in class discussions. Make sure you have a quiet area where you can speak often at a normal volume. Otherwise, your class experience is likely to be flat, and 3 steps away from watching hours of YouTube video, with no relief in sight. When attendees are forced to stay on mute for the whole class, the only person more bored than you will be your instructor! Participate!

Before arranging for a common room for attendees, do everything possible to arrange for a quieter environment, including attending class from home.

If you are planning on attending a virtual class in a room with other attendees (not recommended!), make sure you have plenty of space between you, to avoid cross-talk and echoes on the audio. Expect to use the Mute function often if in a common room.


Follow recommendations for audio equipment. If you are using your computer for audio, have a computer headset (you can order one on Amazon for as little as $25). If you using a land line, make sure you have a headset that will last the duration of class. Speakerphone is less than ideal, and wireless headsets will not last a full day of class.

If in a common room with other attendees, do not rely on a speakerphone for either instructor or attendee audio. See the earlier note about class participation.


Try to have a webcam available. Try to have a reasonable amount of light in your room, and share your webcam when asked or when appropriate. Seeing the faces of attendees and the instructor greatly personalizes the online training experience.

Bonus secrets

Yes, I know the title said 5 secrets, but the bonus secrets have to do with you, the attendee.

Online training can be expensive. You should have high standards for the content you receive. Give yourself the best experience by getting involved in the class. With very few exceptions, the best reviews and comments I get from students are from those that get engaged early, and participate in class discussions and exercises.

Be a geek! Demand that you get involved in class, and ask lots of good questions. You’ll learn more, and everyone will appreciate the content your questions bring up.

Stay focused! Treat your training as if it was in a classroom environment. During your training, email, phone, and Facebook are not your friend. Online classes tend to be fast-paced, and outside distractions will quickly take you off course.

Come to class with questions and examples of problems you need to solve. Real world examples help you and other students understand why you’re in class to begin with, and the questions you ask now as a part of class may easily be considered “consulting” a month after the class ends.