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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 online: 60 minutes

Civility: Pass It On

America has a civility deficit. And most Americans think civility will worsen in the years ahead. Let’s do something about it! This presentation focuses on the concept of civility: how to define it, promote it and protect it. In this session we will focus on examples of effective civility within the legislative environment, and consider tangible techniques you can use to increase and promote civility within your legislature.

In-person: 45 minutes

Fee: May apply

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 and online: 90 minutes

Constituent Service is Customer Service.

As an old business adage goes, “a happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world.” Excellent customer service differentiates good organizations from great ones and poor customer service can have a lasting and negative impact on any organization. This session will uncover the organizational values of businesses that are best known for their culture of customer service and apply them to the legislative environment.

In-person and online: 60 minutes

Cultivating Your Craft: Five Principles of Being an Effective Staffer

Legislative work, as any staffer knows well, is not easy. Public service is rewarding, but legislatures are unique and demanding workplaces and it takes time to learn to navigate them successfully. In this session, staff will learn and discuss five principles of being an effective staffer.

In-person and online: 60 minutes

Dealing With Difficult Stakeholders

Legislative staff often find themselves interacting with stakeholders (members, constituents, etc.) who present themselves in challenging ways. Whether it’s an emotional issue, or the stakeholder lacks trust, dealing with these types of situations can take a toll. This workshop will explore techniques to deal effectively with these sorts of situations in a way that preserves the relationship.

In-person and online: 60 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 online: 45 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 17 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 online: 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 online: 30 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 and online: 90 minutes

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 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 online: 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 and online: 75 minutes

Workplace Dynamics

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 online: 45 minutes

Communication Styles

Communicating effectively is the key to success in the legislature. In this interactive session, participants will identify and learn about their own communication style and how to use and adjust their style to effectively communicate with others.

In person: 45-60 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 online: 60 minutes

Essential 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


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. In this session you have the opportunity to consider your personal and legislative values and see how they can motivate and guide you to make ethical, values-based decisions.

In-person and online: 60 minutes

TREACOM Social Styles

TRACOM Social Styles NCSL offers the TRACOM Social Styles model which categorizes people according to their observable behavior (what they say and do) and how they interact with others. Behavior studies like Social Styles are important because the information can help improve relationships and performance. Learn how your style can interact with other styles to build an effective team and productive work environment.

In-person: 2-3 hours

Fee: $146 per person

Managing and Leadership Development

Great Manager Workshop

You know a great manager when you work with one but what is it that makes them great? Participants will identify key attributes of great managers and then take a deeper dive into learning about some of these attributes. As part of this workshop, participants will create a “great manager” learning and development plan, allowing them to set some tangible learning goals in developing their own management skills.

In-person and online: 75-90 minutes

Managing a Remote Staff

High quality staff management is a challenge even in the best of times.  But in a work-from-home world, new obstacles have increased the difficulty of connecting with, and effectively guiding, our teams.  This workshop will explore the lessons and best practices the past year of remote work has taught us about overcoming these hurdles, equipping us with leadership skills that can translate to life beyond WFH.

In-person and online: 60 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.

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