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Working in Partnership with Your Subject Matter Experts (cont.)

Explain the design and development process up front. Don't delve too deep into every element of instructional design. Address expectations for their time and contribution; clearly articulate what you will require from them for the project. Clarify your understanding of what they will be contributing in terms of content, expertise and review of materials. This will help ensure that you both have the same understanding for expectations.

Identify early on the best means of communicating with them. With so many technology choices available today, they may have a preference. Explore options that are convenient, will save time for both of you and will not push the project effort over budget. When needing additional meeting times, set up calendar invites to book ahead. Send an agenda so there is preparation ahead of time and your meeting is more productive for both of you. By doing so, you are indicating that you appreciate they have other commitments and responsibilities and you value the time they will spend with you.

Being Prepared:
Don't wait until the last minute to review content that has been provided - prepare for your meetings well in advance and have a list of questions ready. Better yet, send the questions out in advance so the SME has a chance to compile their response or gather the necessary information before the meeting.

SMEs Sharing Their Knowledge:
The reason they are subject matter experts is because of their experience with the topic. Capture their knowledge and match it against what the learner needs to know. Stay focused on the learning objectives and whether the information is a 'nice to know' or a 'need to know'. When possible, give parameters to work within, when supplying content to you. For example in eLearning, it might be the length of narration for a given screen.

Affirm & Appreciate:
Finally, let them know that their contribution and effort is important to the success of the project. A thank-you email at major mile-stones is a great way to reaffirm that their expertise is valued and appreciated.

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