Here are some famous last words in the life of a trainer: “I’ll print my handouts when I get to class.” When I was teaching a weekly evening class at a vocational school, I used to bring my class notes on a disk. I’d usually print and copy the handouts just before class started.

One night, however, I got to the school and was greeted with the news that the network was down and my students wouldn’t have any computers. No computers, no notes. When you only meet once a week for seven weeks, it’s hard to justify dismissing the class early. So we talked and conceptualized a lot about the material I was going to present.

The evening wasn’t a total disaster. However, it would have been better if I’d been able to at least give the students some notes, some screen shots—anything they could take with them and refer to later.

Be prepared for Murphy’s influence
The moral of this story: No matter what kind of training you do, have a plan in case the PCs don’t work, the Internet connection won’t connect, or the overhead projector won’t project. Here are some reminders:

  • Print your notes in advance. Handouts are a great way to reinforce your training. They come in handy for your advanced students who want to work ahead, and they help all students remember the lesson after the class is over.
  • Bring your laptop, if you have one. Bringing along your own machine will help you get some hands-on training done even if the training-room computers are down.
  • Cache your Web pages. If your lesson plan includes finding and using information on the Web, save those pages in your cache or in a “work offline” folder. That way, if the computers work but the Internet connection doesn’t, you’ll be able to show the Web sites, even if you can’t load live pages.
  • Bring a boot disk. Hey, what if your laptop or one of the lab computers crashes? Make sure you’ve always got a good boot disk in your briefcase or your glove box. And turn the experience into a lesson about reviving a crashed computer.

We’re always looking for good training stories—so if you’ve had a really good or really bad training experience, write us a noteand share your pain. We’ll publish the best stories here in the TrainingRepublic.