Let’s say your boss or client tasks you with developing a new e-learning project. During your initial project meeting, there are probably a hundred questions you could ask, but a laundry list like that could easily drive your conversation into the weeds. Instead, try these five questions during your initial meeting to help you narrow down the most critical information and keep your conversation on target.

1. Who are your learners?

It’s important to know who will be taking your course, so one of your first questions should be to find out about your audience. Are they technically savvy or complete newbies? Do they have experience with the subject matter or is it completely foreign to them? Identify their knowledge level and expectations. You may also want to find out other general demographic information, just so you can build familiar context into your course. Together, these data points will help you decide what content your audience needs and the best way to present it.

2: What existing materials can you use?

You can save a lot of time and effort if you can use existing training materials and information as a starting point, so ask your client about giving you access to documents, PowerPoint presentations, past training materials, and such. It can’t hurt to ask about graphic materials as well, such as photos, logos, and other assets. Remember, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel—recycling existing content saves a ton of research and development time.

3. What additional resources are available?

Additional resources includes everything from people (Subject Matter Experts, graphic designers) to hardware (microphones, computers) and software (e-learning authoring tool, graphics software). Ask your boss or client up front what resources you’ll have available throughout the project. If you think of resources you might need, this would be a good time to point them out and ask about those.

4. What is the review process?

It’s a good idea to clearly identify and lay out the review process up front, as this is a frequent pain point in projects. When you map out the review process, build in several “checkpoints” with stakeholders throughout to help make sure your end product lives up to everyone’s expectations.

5. What are the deadlines?

Identifying deadlines up front will help you plan out your project schedules. You may need to book time with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and other stakeholders, who often have tight schedules. Depending on the organization and the project, deadlines can be hard-and-fast or flexible, so it’s important to know how your client typically operates so you can manage your project accordingly.

If you come to your initial meeting with your client or boss with these five questions, you will not only seem well-prepared, you’ll also walk out with a lot of the key information you need to move forward and be successful with your next project. 

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