Strategic Partner

How to Make Partnering With SMEs Really Pay Off

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

SMEs can bring credibility and relevance to live training. They enrich learning programs with their insight and depth of experience. But content expertise alone isn't enough to deliver effective training. Dale Ludwig and Greg Owen-Boger, authors of Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide for Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning, know that with the right approach, though, you can bring SMEs into the training room successfully—in a way that makes learners, instructors, and managers feel like their goals are being met.

I recently spoke with Dale and Greg about how instructional designers can work with SMEs to make training delivery by the SME as easy as possible. It’s all about getting SMEs comfortable with their role, they say. “SMEs need to understand that they are their to help facilitate learning.”


It’s also important to help SMEs understand the learning process. For instance, SMEs need to understand why a training program is designed a certain way—why some content needs to be covered in a specific order or format and why some activities may work better than others. It’s important to remember that SMEs are authorities on content, not talent development.

Bottom line: SMEs want to do well in the classroom, but it's often unfamiliar terrain. Listen to my Q&A podcast with Dale and Greg for some first-rate advice, gleaned from decades helping presenters, instructional designers, and SMEs become better communicators.

About the Author

Amanda Smith is the Learning & Development Community of Practice manager at the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Her specialties include educational planning, PR/marketing, and project management. Amanda has more than 12 years of experience in the non-profit sector, developing and marketing professional development programs for the adult learner.

Amanda brings a diverse and unique perspective on program development. She has worked for companies in healthcare, foodservice, commercial real-estate, and media industries, including the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), and the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF). 

She also serves as president and spokesperson for the Alliance for Women in Media, National Capital Area Chapter (AWM-NCAC) in Washington, D.C.  She resides in the D.C. Metro area with her husband and two children.

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