We call on our organization’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) everyday to support our sales meetings, customer briefings, and organizational “lunch and learns.” It just makes sense. They can introduce the finer points of a new product, help a customer more effectively adopt a solution or inform the organization about new processes.
So why are so many people tuning out and not listening to, much less retaining, the information from the Webinars we work so hard to schedule?
When I ask that question, the complaints role in. “They are too technical.” “They present like a ...[insert their role].” “Our SMEs present too much information and are always rushing at the end.” “They are just poor presenters...voice, pace...” “People just multi-task and don’t really listen.”
So let’s look at this from the other side. Put yourselves in the shoes of the SMEs. They were hired for their expertise, not their presentation skills. In addition, SMEs often feel they are parachuting in with little notice before being asked to present. And now? You just shoved them out of their comfort zone by having them present virtually.
As learning leaders, we have a responsibility to build a safety net for our SMEs when they present virtually. There are dozens of things you can do to support your SMEs to be successful over time. Here are three things you can quickly implement the day before or the day of a Webinar. They will help SMEs instantly be more successful delivering virtual presentations.
1. Help them get to know attendees.
SMEs often don’t even know who is in the room with them. They might have names and titles, but what does the audience want to know? If they were face-to-face, they would probably chat with the people in the room. How do they do that in the virtual environment? Have them open up with a question in chat right at the start of the Webinar. It can be as simple as, “What’s the most important thing you want to hear today?” This can go a long way in creating a more interactive environment for the SME and the listeners. If there is a host, they can use this information to focus and guide a SME to provide the most valuable information. It will also help the SME to tailor and trim the content in the moment and provide openings for dialogue with the attendees.
2. Audio is everything.
It’s all about the voice. Bad audio will hamper engagement and therefore retention. If they don’t have a good headset with a noise-cancelling microphone, get them one. No speakerphones! Too many factors effect success with speakerphones. Schedule a conference room with a good network connection that they can present from. Do an audio check with your SME presenters at the beginning of every Webinar. A little coaching and adjustment may be all that is needed to provide a better audio experience.
3. Focus on the conversation, not the technology.
For those of us who routinely train and facilitate in the virtual room, knowing all the functionality and nuances of the virtual platform is key. But your SMEs don’t need to be virtual platform experts. Educate them about the basics - what we call “First level” engagement tools in the virtual room. Things like hand raises, chat, or check marks. Make sure there is a Producer or Host to handle technology and let the SME do what they do best.
Join our webinar on July 13th at 10:00 am MT to learn how you can help your experts be successful in the virtual environment and provide them with a safety net to deliver excellent presentations.
Help Subject Matter Experts Deliver Strong Virtual Trainings