Legislative Staff Training Menu


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NCSL frequently delivers professional development workshops and sessions for legislative staff. Because the legislative workplace is so unique, regardless of what specific role an employee has, NCSL customizes training to reflect the challenges of performing well in the legislative environment. Many of NCSL’s programs are offered at no cost to the states, while others may require cost sharing for faculty fees and travel.

The following list is a starting point and far from exhaustive. The best approach is to discuss your specific needs with us so that we can design a program tailored for you. All of NCSL’s offerings are designed for professional, adult learners and are interactive and engaging.

To explore how NCSL can help you conduct high-quality professional development for your legislative staff team, contact Angela Andrews.

The programs listed below may be delivered in person, virtually, or both.

Skills and Knowledge

Bursting Your Bias Bubble: How to Broaden our Perspective in a Polarized World

The proliferation of mass media and technology in the last 20 years has created a paradox: despite easy access to every possible perspective and point of view, we find ourselves increasingly locked within an echo chamber of our own opinion.  This dynamic not only increases our political polarization and interpersonal conflict, but it also robs us of the ability to develop our own information literacy and critical thinking skills.  In this module we will examine the forces that create this “bias bubble,” and explore methods that allow us to escape it, broadening our perspective, and enriching our knowledge lives.

In-person and Virtual: 60 minutes

Writing for a Legislative Audience

Legislative staff create a wide variety of written products. From newsletters to emails to constituent correspondence—the list goes on and on. But regardless of the purpose, certain tactics are essential to crafting concise, efficient and easy-to-digest content. In this workshop, you will learn how to effectively organize your thoughts and put them across in a form that maximizes the impact of your information.

In person: Two-hour workshop

Virtual: 60 minutes

Parliamentary Procedure

A basic knowledge of the proper conduct of public meetings and an understanding of the fundamentals of parliamentary procedure are essential not only for legislators but also legislative staff. This workshop will provide an overview of basic parliamentary procedure principles, as well as where to locate the rules that apply to legislative bodies.

In person and virtual: 60 minutes

Presentation Skills

Public speaking is said to be one of people’s great fears. Legislative staff, however, are often required to present complex information to legislative committees and other groups. This workshop will present tips on developing the confidence and capability to give presentations that clearly convey essential information while keeping the audience engaged.

In person: 90 minutes

Virtual: 60 minutes

Collaborative Problem-Solving

Legislative staff can be part of situations where two sides are locked in a conflict, and they need to help resolve it. This hands-on workshop is designed to teach staff to apply the principles of negotiation to help explore creative ways of delivering solutions to conflicts in ways that can help all sides feel satisfied.

In person: 90 minutes

Virtual: 60 minutes

Personal Productivity

Whether you work for a single legislator or more than one, a caucus or an entire legislative body, managing competing demands and multiple projects is challenging. During this short program, learn how to get organized, set priorities, create a work plan for keeping on top of project details, communicate with collaborators, and meet deadlines.

In person and virtual: 30 minutes

Techniques for Effective Messaging

Oftentimes legislative communication goes beyond merely educating or informing an audience. In speeches, on social medi, and through talking points, the objective may be to persuade, to create content that advances a particular point of view. In this session, you will learn what the latest brain science says about crafting a compelling message, and you will be exposed to techniques that are sure to increase the persuasive power of your work. This program is recommended for partisan staff.

In person and virtual: 60 minutes

Media and Social Media Training

Staff often get calls from the media requesting information and insight into issues facing state legislatures. This program will train you on how talk with media representatives while keeping legislators in the forefront when discussing legislative issues. This training features media experts with more than 15 years of communications experience who can create guidelines to help your staff avoid potential landmines. This program is recommended for communications or partisan staff.

In person and virtual: 60 minutes

Virtual Events: Engagement Is the Key

In the COVID era, much of our work has moved online. Most of our legislative business, from meetings to presentations to constituent interactions, exist in the virtual world. This reality requires a new way of thinking about participant engagement. You’ll gain a set of online best practices designed to increase the impact and efficacy of your online interactions. Available for virtual programming only.

Virtual: 45 minutes

Finding Resiliency During Challenging Times

When we encounter difficult circumstances in life, it is easy to feel anxious, overwhelmed or defeated. We can feel ill-equipped to deal with the uncertainty and change that swirls around us. But this doesn’t have to be the case. In this training, we practice the use of several simple, easy-to-employ tactics that can build our capacity for “grit”—the ability to demonstrate perseverance, mental strength and resiliency in the face of life’s challenges.

In person and virtual: 45 minutes

Workplace Dynamics

Critical Conversations: A Protocol to Strengthen our Work Relationships

In the fast-paced, often chaotic world of the legislature, it is easy to find ourselves in professional silos, disconnected from our co-workers, and feeling isolated in our work environment.  This team building module seeks to reinvigorate our interpersonal connections with other team members through the power of authentic conversation.  By exploring our answers to critical questions of purpose, values, and organizational culture, we will leave the room with a richer understanding of both our colleagues, and ourselves. Available for in-person programming only.

In-person: 90 minutes to two hours

Working Together and Building Stronger Teams**

NCSL uses the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)®, a validated assessment of preferences that helps individuals and teams understand the diverse ways in which people learn, use information and make decisions. Using the time-tested MBTI results, employees gain insight into their own behaviors, the behavioral styles of others, and they develop appreciation for the diversity of people’s preferences in how they approach their jobs and life. The workshop is facilitated by NCSL’s MBTI®-certified practitioner. Available for in-person programming only. **Fee for self-assessments may apply.

In person: Two-hour workshop

Boosting EQ: How to Increase Our Emotional Intelligence

Everyone wants to think of themselves as intelligent, in possession of a high IQ. But recent research in the field of organizational psychology suggests that emotional intelligence, or EQ, is an even more important attribute for success in both our personal and professional lives. In this training, we will explore what EQ is, why it matters and how you can boost your own EQ score to improve the outcomes of your interactions with others.

In person and virtual: 45 minutes

Ethics and Civility

We hear a lot about ethics and civility today. What ethical values are important to you and help guide you in your decision-making process? This session will explore ethical values and how they can help guide your decisions and actions. Further, we will look at civility—how to define it, promote it and protect it. The session will also focus on ways staff can promote civility, including communication skills and personal empowerment. This program may be eligible for CLE credit.

In person and virtual: 60 minutes

Culture as the Key to Legislative Success

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” management guru Peter Drucker famously said. But how do you build—and nurture—an effective culture in the legislature? Attendees will learn why culture is important for workplace collaboration, communication and organizational effectiveness and discuss proven strategies for building a strong culture in their offices.

In person and virtual: 60 minutes

Managing and Leadership Development

Great Manager Workshop

You know a great manager when you work with one. But what is it that makes them different? This workshop pulls together the findings of today’s prominent management scholars and the lessons learned by NCSL in over 30 years of working with legislative staff managers. Participants collaborate to create their own definition of effective management, leading to the development of a “great managers” handbook for the group or office.

Virtual: 90 minutes

In person: Two-hour workshop

10 Things Great Leaders Do

The number of books, studies and articles on leadership is infinite. This session boils great leadership down to 10 essentials and explores how the emerging field of neuroscience contributes to our understanding of leadership success. This program is great for team building or during a team lunch. Available for in-person programming only.

In person: 30-45 minutes

Office and Team Retreats (Strategic Planning to Team Building)

Office, Team or Strategic Planning Retreats

NCSL’s facilitators will work with your staff group, interdisciplinary project team or other legislative group to help you think strategically about key issues and goals. Through techniques such as snow card exercises and guided discussions, our facilitators help you cut through the clutter and the side issues to get to strategies that take you to the next level. Available for in-person programming only.

In person: Half to full day depending on programming goals and based on consultation with NCSL trainer.

Designing Strategy

The process of creating an organizational strategy can be daunting, whether it’s for a member’s personal staff, or for a full caucus. Part of the problem lies in our differing concepts of what a strategy actually is, and what it can accomplish. This workshop seeks to simplify the process by employing a straightforward framework whose aim is to identify a specific strategic problem, and to create a set of choices and actions designed to overcome that obstacle. THE AUDIENCE FOR THIS WORKSHOP IS AN EXISTING TEAM.