Getting SME engagement is crucial for the success of any L&D project. SMEs provide the information, suggestions, and feedback for all learning knowledge. SMEs are often pressed on time and may not think training is a priority for their current situation, so it is important to get buy in during every step. Being organized during your meetings is the first step in communicating to the SME that your project is important and they are dealing with a professional. Here are the six steps to a professional SME meeting:
SMEs can smell BS from a mile away. If you come in unprepared to a meeting, they will sense it and think you are wasting their time. This will make getting a meeting with them 100X more difficult. Before each meeting with your SME decide what your goals are for the meeting and how you will structure the meeting to achieve them.
2. Relationship Building
SMEs are people too. They have lives outside of work and that presents opportunities to build strong relationships. Try to research your SMEs and strike up a conversation about different things they are interested in. This will help when you need them to go the extra mile on a project with a tight deadline.
3. Meeting Expectations
Not knowing what to expect is terrifying in any situation. State the objectives of the meeting so it’s clear to all parties what the end goal is. That will also help you with time management as the SME will be able to let you know when one part of the meeting might take longer than the other. This is especially helpful with you have strict meeting times.
At the end of the day, this project is owned by the ID. That means that the ID is responsible for keeping all parties on track and on subject. If the conversation gets too complex for your goal or the SMEs start chatting about something that isn’t on topic, it’s the ID’s job to get everyone back on task.
5. Next Steps
That dreaded ghost email is a scary thing when a deadline is approaching. Before your meeting ends, make sure everyone is clear for what happens next and make sure you schedule another meeting with the SMEs. This way the ID won’t have to play email tag or just wait to get another meeting with the SME.
6. Confirmation Email
Do you need the SME to do something? Get documents, images, or video? Review a script or prototype? Odds are they aren’t taking notes during the meeting. Keep everyone on track with a confirmation email that includes next steps, requests, and meeting time and dates.
SME meetings can be difficult when you don’t know what to do. These six steps present a good foundational structure to ensure you shine with professionalism.