NCSL works with legislators and legislative leaders to design and deliver high-level, legislator-specific training on a wide range of topics and skills.
NCSL’s training services help members improve the skills necessary to be more effective.
Many of the programs offered by NCSL are at no cost to the state, while others may require cost sharing for faculty fees and travel. Please note: training requests for legislatures must come through leadership. The following list is a starting point, yet far from exhaustive. The best approach is to discuss specific needs and design a program to address those needs. All of NCSL’s offerings are designed for professional, adult learners and are interactive and engaging.
Management and Leadership Development
Committee Chair Training
Elections often bring a changing of the guard among committee chairs. NCSL’s committee chair training program delivers insight, skills and practical advice. Experienced committee chairs from other states participate in a peer-to-peer, case-study driven format that keeps participants engaged.
Leading in an Infinite Game
In game theory, there are two types of games: finite, and infinite. Too often, our leadership mindsets are fixed within the world of finite competitions—beating our foes in the next game, or in the next battle. In the legislature, that finite philosophy takes the form of winning the next election or passing the next piece of legislation. But the legislative world is actually an infinite game, with very different rules and objectives which require a new model of leadership. In this session we will explore how a shift to an infinite mindset can enhance your ability to lead your chamber on a course for long term success.
Civility: Trust Through Civil Discourse Workshop
NCSL offers a civility workshop in partnership with The National Institute for Civil Discourse, who has developed an active discovery process, "Building Trust through Civil Discourse.” The program is designed to build a new set of skills and attitudes about civil engagement with a goal of improving personal and group productivity. (3-4 hours) *Fee may apply.
Working Together and Building Stronger Teams
NCSL employs the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a validated assessment of preferences that helps individuals and teams understand the diverse approaches about how people learn, use information and make decisions. Using the time-tested MBTI results, employees gain insight into their behaviors, the styles of others and develop enhanced appreciation for the diversity of preferences people in how they approach their jobs and life. The workshop is facilitated by NCSL’s MBTI- certified practitioner. *Fee may apply.
Fee: $22 per person
Finding Resiliency During Challenging Times
When we encounter difficult circumstances in life, it is easy to feel anxious, overwhelmed, or defeated. We seem ill-equipped to effectively 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.
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.
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.
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.
Skills and Knowledge Development
Being and Effective Legislator/Leader
NCSL offers an effective legislator training that highlights the most important points legislators need to know going into their first (or fiftieth!) session. We bring in seasoned legislators to provide real-life examples of why these tips are imperative for legislators to master.
The Art of Legislative Negotiation
Traditional business and legal negotiation practices have centered on an oppositional, zero-sum game approach that seeks clear winners and losers. But negotiation in the legislative realm is different in many ways, with multiple stakeholders, complex interests, and both policy and political considerations to balance. In this workshop, legislators will learn to identify their primary interests, and the interests of their negotiating partner, develop creative options to circumvent roadblocks, preserve relationships with their negotiating partners for future interactions and more. Participants will engage in negotiation simulations designed specifically for the legislative setting. The goal of this hands-on training is to develop the skills and creativity necessary to engage in successful negotiation practices that produce more optimal outcomes.
Many legislatures include ethics training in orientation programs, but this content is almost always focused on ethics laws and rules. While these are important, NCSL can take your ethics training to the next level with a “Values-Based Ethics” approach to this difficult topic.
The Social Media Landscape in Legislatures
New and emerging technology means that in the social media landscape there is something new every day. This workshop will provide participants with a deeper understanding of the use of social media as it pertains to you as a legislator and some tips on how you might be able to better connect with your constituents. The interactive presentation is designed to be relevant, provide current examples of best practices employed by others, and address the overall use of social media with a constituent centric mindset. The presentation encourages participation and is designed for a beginner all the way to the more advanced tweeter.
The Media: Friend or Foe?
Have you ever been walking through the Capital to find yourself cornered by the capital beat reporter? What can you say and should you comment at all? This workshop exposes participants to the basic concepts of media communication, including the ground rules of doing interviews and the “Do’s and Don’ts”, best practices and common media mistakes.
On nearly every topic legislatures address, NCSL experts can do in-depth, national-overview briefings on developments in the states and at the federal level. General topics include education, health, criminal justice, energy, environment, transportation and children and family issues. Briefings can be informal for selected groups, presented as formal testimony before legislative committees or caucuses, or as part of orientation programs.
Presentation Skills and Public Speaking: Developing Dynamic Delivery
Public speaking is said to be one of people’s great fears. Legislators, however, are often required to present complex information in a variety of public speaking settings. This workshop will present tips on developing the confidence and capability to give good presentations that clearly convey essential information, while keeping the audience engaged.
Techniques for Effective Messaging
Oftentimes legislative communication goes beyond merely educating or informing an audience. In speeches, on social media, and through talking points, the writing objective may be more persuasive, 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 specific techniques sure to increase the persuasive power of your work.
As a legislator, managing competing demands and multiple projects is one of the most challenging aspects of the job. Learn how to get organized, set priorities, create a work plan for keeping on top of project details, communicate with collaborators, and meet deadlines. This program last 30 minutes.
Facilitating Office Retreats
Strategic Planning Facilitation
NCSL has a network of highly experienced facilitators who understand the world of the legislature. Using established techniques for planning and brainstorming, NCSL can help your caucus or leadership team cut through the clutter and the side issues to find strategies aimed at taking the caucus and chamber to the next level.
Caucus Retreats and Workshops: A Specific Service for Legislative Leaders
NCSL offers two principle services for state leaders: customizable workshops that allow you to connect with your caucus or leadership team, build followership and determine future direction.
- Facilitated caucus retreats: Help your team set values and culture while goal setting and strengthening the team.
- Strategic planning workshops: Design your strategy for a vital goal or the coming session while getting the caucus on the same page.
Led by legislature-specific facilitator Curt Stedron of the NCSL Legislative Training Institute, these customizable workshops are half-day or full-day and can be combined, and they are designed for any sized group, from the leadership team to the full caucus.