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213 Energize SMEs and Reclaim Time: Presenting Your Ask as Their Opportunity

1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 12

Tracks: Management & Strategy

Series: Instructional Design Summit

Instructional designers are learning experts, not subject matter experts. But we frequently find ourselves needing to act as both, taking a crash course on a topic the pros study and practice for years. When this content is complex, dense, technical, or legal in nature, contributions from qualified subject matter experts can make or break a training program. But what can we do when we aren’t getting what we need from the people who know the topic best? How can we motivate our contributors while re-energizing our development processes? 

This session will take you step-by-step through the often-challenging process for engaging and working with experts in ways that will maximize the value for everyone. You’ll learn how to present your SME ask as an opportunity instead of a plea for help. We’ll break down successful methods for reaching out to subject matter experts, getting their buy-in to contribute content, and empowering them to produce the type of content you need. We’ll also look at actual templates and tools you can use to enable your SMEs and bring consistency to your course development process. Additionally, we’ll cover how to structure your teams’ roles to preserve instructional designers’ time for what they do best. You’ll learn how giving SMEs less time to produce content can often improve their responsiveness, and explore how to boost accountability through group kickoff calls and check-ins. Finally, you’ll discover nontraditional incentives to motivate SMEs to deliver the content you need on the schedule you need, and to promote your final product once it’s complete. We’ll practice applying what we’ve covered in an interactive activity, and you’ll walk away from this session with tools and tactics you can put to work immediately.

In this session you will learn:

  • How to position your SME request as an opportunity, not a plea
  • A three-step communication plan to present your ask, deliver details, and get a “signed” commitment
  • How a dedicated “SME liaison” can protect an instructional designer’s time and boost SME engagement (and how to customize this role if you’re a team of one)
  • Resources and templates for SMEs to structure their content in a way that’s most useful to you and your learners
  • How to use spreadsheets and other project management tools to minimize your time chasing SMEs and maximize your time building learning

Technology discussed:

Microsoft Office applications, Smartsheet or other project management tool, e.g., Excel Spreadsheets, video conferencing

Sarah Flaherty

Senior Training Manager

International Association of Privacy Professionals

Sarah Flaherty manages a team of eight instructional designers at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), providing privacy certification training for external learners. In this role, Sarah contributes to learning strategy for the organization, launches new products, and still occasionally tinkers with eLearning design (her passion). Between training-related roles, Sarah took a career detour into the marketing agency world, writing all forms of creative copy and client messaging.

Liz Young

Training Development Manager

International Association of Privacy Professionals

Liz Young is a training development manager at the International Association for Privacy Professionals in Portsmouth, NH, where she designs and develops synchronous in-person trainings and asynchronous eLearning for members. She has worked in the education and training fields for over 13 years. Liz holds an MFA in writing from Southern New Hampshire University and a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire. She was formerly an assistant professor of English at Mount Washington College where she chaired the college’s general education committee and received an Academic Leadership Award in 2014.