16 Student Development Strategies

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Help us fill in the blank: most training and lectures ______.

We're thinking you answered: boring, irrelevant, not compelling, too expensive, or suck. 


Face it: most podium speakers are boring and most lectures suck. And motivational speakers aren't motivational. You know it's true and so do we. Over the past new student orientation season, our team presented before and after many other speakers—speakers who showed up late, didn't know how to use their technology, and even one that went 35 minutes over time. OMG, please stop agreeing to put your students through this.

If you ask the wrong question on the internet, you'll get a million and one wrong answers. The content is out there and most of the time it's free! Your student have access to all the content they need all the time...right from their smartphone. Since 2007, the world is different, and so your learning experiences need to be different.

You can't just bring in a content expert anymore. You can't just bring in the author of the book. You can't just dump information on the screen and read it to them. That's all available on the smartphone. You need to create a meaningful and memorable experience for your students... and we're here to continue helping you do just that.

Since 1995, we’ve been home to a series of national best-selling educational productions perfect for the first-year experience and student leadership development focused on What Every College Student Needs to Know®️. We co-create and facilitate high-energy, interactive, engaging, and fun seminars, retreats, and conferences with content that you need to know, delivered in a context you can relate to, at a price your campus can afford.

Do we get it wrong sometimes? Of course. That's why if your students don’t like it, your school doesn’t pay for it! It’s money-back guaranteed. We learn from our 23 years of experience, and here's some things we've picked up...

As you develop programs and training events for your students, here are 16 things you should do to ensure students get the most from them:

  1. Study your students, not the content.

  2. Don't make it a talk; build a conversation.

  3. Be willing to go off script and respond to new needs.

  4. Keep it simple: if you have one hour, go deep with three concepts. Don't force your students to drink from a fire hose. The more you teach, the less they learn. The less you teach, the more they learn. 

  5. Interview your audience in advance: what do they want and need?

  6. Take cues from your favorite comedians: tell stories and get to the point.

  7. Set up for success: what kind of room would you want to be in for professional development?

  8. Build slides with no more than three learning points on each slide (ideally one).

  9. More on slides: a picture is worth a thousand words: fill the slide with a high-res photo.

  10. Make it one learns how to ride a bike by hearing about it.

  11. Invite people on an individual basis; we don't go to events because of marketing, but because we planned to go with our friends.

  12. Speak with more than passion—you must feel obligated to be the person to deliver this message.

  13. Build reflection into the program, because they're going to do something else right afterward.

  14. Look like you're having fun. The more fun you're having presenting, the more fun the audience will have.

  15. Create a great experience for your students and they'll show up to the next event.

  16. Stop using lecture-style seating. Always, always, always use Chevron or U-shape when you can.

When all else fails, hire a professional to be your partner in the development and facilitation. 

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Here are 16 of our bestselling shows, seminars, and retreats to help make your job easier and to help you look like a hero to your campus community.

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