Greg Owen-Boger - Jan 22, 2018

The 2nd Fundamental Principle of Success in the Training Room: From “Effective SMEs”

This post is the fourth in a series of excerpts from “Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide for Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning.” In this excerpt Dale Ludwig (Turpin Communication’s Founder) and Greg Owen-Boger (Turpin’s VP) discuss the second of three fundamental principles of success in the training room.

Learning Events Succeed on Two Levels: Plan and Process


Creating the conditions conducive for learning—a sense of equality, respect, safety, relevance, and shared purpose—requires recognizing the distinction between learning objectives and the learning process. Learning objectives are planned and the learning process is managed. Once SMEs understand their dual responsibilities, they’re much more likely to succeed in the classroom.

From the learners’ perspective, the live training process requires a sustained level of engagement and focus. Unlike asynchronous delivery, for example, learners do not have the option to pause the process, back it up, or complete it another day. They give those options up when they enter the training room, just as they did when they entered the academic classroom. The difference in business, however, is that facilitators are responsible for making sure learners feel good about that decision. They do this by managing the learning process well and creating the conditions for fruitful learning.

So while meeting learning objectives is the SME’s primary goal, it cannot be reached effectively or efficiently without learner engagement. That requires bringing the instructional design and all its components into the here and now of the learning conversation, making whatever is taught understandable, relevant, and useful for each learner. Facilitators must be relentless in their effort to adapt and respond. When they do, trust is established and good will is earned. For these reasons, the SMEs’ success in the training room must be measured on two levels.

For more information or to order the book, go to ATD Press, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.

Written by Greg Owen-Boger

Greg Owen-Boger has been with Turpin Communication since 1995, first as a cameraman, then instructor, account manager, and now vice president. Schooled in management and the performing arts, Greg brings a diverse set of skills and experiences to the organization. Greg is one of Turpin’s facilitators and coaches. When he’s not with clients, he manages the day-to-day operations of the company. Greg is an active member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and was the 2015 President of ATD, Chicagoland Chapter. He is a popular speaker, frequent blogger, and the co-author of the book The Orderly Conversation: Business Presentations Redefined. His latest book, also co-authored by Dale Ludwig, launched in 2017 and is entitled Effective SMEs: A Trainer’s Guide for Helping Subject Matter Experts Facilitate Learning.