Working in Partnership with Your Subject Matter Experts
In almost everything we do - personally or professionally, we rely on someone who is an expert; the person who has
experience and knowledge and is willing to share it. Whether it's asking a financial advisor about investments or a
developer about a software application, you hope they have the answer to all your questions.
As instructional designers, we rely on Subject Matter Experts - or SMEs - to provide us with answers when designing
and developing a learning program. They are our 'go to' resource that can ensure we create compelling and results
orientated training programs. Their expertise and familiarity with the content is what turns a simple concept into a learning
Every SME you work with is just a little different. What they know and how they tell it is influenced by many different things,
including their past experiences, the way they work, and how they communicate.
There are a few things we can do to help guide our relations with SMEs, make it easier for them to work with us, while
ensuring we have what we need to design and develop our learning programs.
Introduce who you are, where you are from and what your role is. You may need to explain why you are talking with them.
Share the Big Picture:
Explain the project at a high-level. Don't assume they know the details. Give them the information they need to understand
the big picture and how they are going to contribute to the success of the project. When needed, provide them with
examples that will help them to help you to put the content into the right context.