Preparing SMEs to Train

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Learning and development professionals are experts in creating and implementing training solutions that employees need. But you can’t do it alone. You need your organization’s subject matter experts (SMEs) to bring their knowledge and skills to the table. And sometimes you even need them to take on the role of trainer.

In “Teaching SMEs to Train,” Cat Sharpe Russo explains that organizations with a small training staff rely on SMEs to train other employees. And even organizations with the appropriate complement of trainers may find it more efficient to have SMEs train staff in highly technical processes and skills that it would take L&D generalists a long time to learn.


If you’re responsible for helping a SME become a trainer, the latest TD at Work collection, “All About SMEs: Building a Successful Partnership,” can help.

The first step is choosing the SME. “Teaching SMEs to Train” provides a checklist to help you decide if your SME is ready to be a trainer. These are some of the questions to ask:

  • Does the SME possess and demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the subject?
  • Are they knowledgeable about the way adults learn?
  • Do they have a confident and inviting presence?
  • Do they speak and enunciate clearly, use effective voice projection, and maintain a comfortable speaking pace?
  • Are they familiar with the audiovisual equipment or online technology and tools?

The issue also walks readers through the nuts and bolts of effective training, including basic design terms, advantages and disadvantages of different delivery methods, and a basic model of course design.
Other issues in “All About SMEs” take on specific aspects of training, making it a valuable resource for SMEs who are learning the basics, as well as seasoned trainers who’d like a refresher. For example, in “Trainer for a Day,” Margaret Murphy and Debra Golden sum up a few principles of adult learning that any trainer needs, noting that adult learners:

  • demand respect
  • are goal focused
  • are self-directed
  • need relevance
  • have varying levels of motivation
  • have life experience
  • are short on time.

If your SME needs guidance in building a learner-centered classroom, crafting a great presentation, managing difficult participants, or creating effective visuals, you’ll find resources to help in this collection. You’ll also find issues specifically dedicated to the relationship between instructional designers and SMEs.
Take a look inside or order a copy of the collection today.

About the Author
Teresa Preston is the managing editor of The Public Manager and TD at Work at the Association for Talent Development (ATD).
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