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What a Subject Matter Expert Needs to Know About Training
by Gilda Bonanno

If you are a subject matter expert, you may be called on to conduct training and share what you know about your area of expertise.  However, it’s not as simple as putting everything you know on slides and presenting them to the audience. 

It’s not enough to know the topic well, you also need to know how to communicate your expertise to others; for example, how to engage the participants and help them connect what they’re learning to how they will apply it. 

Below is a checklist of elements and skills you need to be familiar with to help ensure that your training is successful and “sticks” with the participants.


  • Know the content

  • Understand participants’ level of familiarity with the material

  • Understand how the participants learn: different learning styles/generations

  • Plan any pre-work required

  • Anticipate questions

  • Plan how much time for the overall training and how much time for each topic, balancing too much vs. too little content

  • Plan training logistics: timings, breaks, room set-up and environment, training modalities, learning environment and culture

  • Develop materials for training, using different training modalities: lecture, small group discussion, slides, video, audio, flip chart, smart board, hands on, action learning, etc.

  • Structure training exercises to maximize participants’ involvement and learning



  • Explain the purpose of the training and how it fits within the context of their role

  • Set learning objectives

  • Establish ground rules with the participants, including holding participants accountable for their own learning


  • Introduce concept/topic and explain in different ways

  • Keep group engaged and focused

  • Focus on practical applications and practice of new skills

  • Facilitate group discussion and training exercises

  • How to ask open-ended questions

  • How to give feedback – both positive and constructive for growth and development

  • How to handle questions and encourage them without getting off track

  • How to stay on time

  • How to manage group and handle any dysfunctional behavior


  • Check for understanding

  • Address remaining questions

  • Set action steps for practical application of skills learned and possible discussion with manager


  • Conduct post-training surveys of participants and their managers

  • Follow up post-training: check in for understanding and application

  • Reflect on what you did well and what you’d like to improve the next time you conduct training

Getting comfortable with these skills will make you a better trainer and help you share what you know with a wider audience. 



Gilda Bonanno is a speaker, trainer and coach who helps people from all walks of life improve their communication and presentation skills.

Copyright (c) 2015

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