Working with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). Part II
In this post, we will continue talking about Subject Matter Experts. Effective communication plays a crucial role when dealing with SMEs. Just like everyone else, Subject Matter Experts have busy schedules. Sometimes, they are not even part of the team and have many other on-the-job responsibilities. Instructional Designers should ensure the SME’s time is not wasted with multiple meetings and meaningless questions. Prior to the meeting with the SME, some preparation work must be done. The goal is to get quality content, not to waste the SME’s time by asking rudimentary questions. Researching the topic before the meeting to become acquainted with basic concepts and terminology can help instructional designers achieve that goal.
Meetings with SMEs will be much more productive if instructional designers inform them of the goals and objectives ahead of time. It is also helpful to prepare questions and send them electronically to the SME. Then, if there are additional questions or content that requires clarification, instructional designers can schedule a phone call or a live-conference call to address the issues.
Recording meetings and conversations can be a major time saver. Oftentimes, instructional designers take written notes and then forget what they mean or cannot make sense out of their writing. The recorded version of the meeting will save both the instructional designer and the SME a lot of time as multiple phone calls and meetings will be avoided. However, it is important to remember that before recording a meeting, instructional designers should always obtain permission from their SME.
While it is important to value the SME’s time and efforts, it is equally important to stay on top of the deadlines. Even though the project may be important to the instructional designer, it may be last on the SME’s list. Instructional designers are responsible for having the course ready on time; therefore, frequent reminders and follow up emails to SMEs may be a necessary step to meeting deadlines.
If you would like to learn more about working with SMEs, you can purchase the Instructional Design for ELearning book here.