Every heard of a SME? In the training field that’s short for Subject Matter Expert. Those of us who design training programs are often not the ones who are expert in the topic or content of the training. We know about training design – how to create learning experiences that result in new behaviours and insights – but we rely on others to provide the content that will be covered in the training. Those content experts are our SMEs. In my most recent trainer blog post I talk about the important relationship we have with our SMEs.
Watch a short video blog post about working with Subject Matter Experts.
The great thing about SMEs is that they really know their stuff. The challenge that we as training designers often face with SMEs, however, is that they know too much stuff. When someone is really immersed in a subject, it can be hard for to them step back and look at that subject from a less-informed person’s perspective. That’s where we as training designers come in. We sort through all of their knowledge and determine how and when someone needs to learn each piece of content.
Training designers partner with SMEs to create impactful learning. That’s why it’s so important for each partner to know their role and respect what the other person brings to the table. We training designers need to draw out the knowledge of SMEs, assess the best process for learning and then design the learning experiences that will work. Our SMEs need to be patient as we ask the many questions required to do our jobs. They need to avoid the urge to dump mounds of documents and information on us and expect us to know how to draw out the salient points.
If you work with Subject Matter Experts to design training programs, it’s well worth taking the time to share with them how you work and what you’ll need from them before sending your first email requesting content. You’ll reduce frustration and improve your results!