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Inspiration, Motivation, and Narration: Meet the 2022 RNL National Conference Keynote Speakers

Brandon TrisslerSenior Vice President, Marketing ContentApril 8, 2022

One of the things I missed during the pandemic was the inspirational impact of a good keynote speaker at an event. There’s nothing quite like being in a room with hundreds of people and feeling the energy of a great speaker who moves and inspires everyone listening to the keynote—whether it’s laughter at a great line or applause at a great idea or the silence of being moved by someone’s triumph over tragic circumstances.

Keynote speakers can have a particularly strong impact at higher education conferences. Higher ed is a mission-driven enterprise and those who work in it tend to be mission oriented—toward the students they serve, with the colleagues they work with, and in the campus mission they support. Many of us thrive on inspiration, on feeling that what we do has a higher purpose in addition to the everyday roles we fulfill. That’s where a great keynote speaker at a higher ed event can make a difference, whether they kick things off or wrap things up.

I have attended a dozen RNL National Conferences over the years, and I am thankful that going to those events has given me a chance to see many terrific keynote speakers. I have also heard from many RNLNC attendees (through their conference evaluations) about how those speakers inspired them to go back to campus and see their students differently or approach their jobs more efficiently or acknowledge to themselves the vast amounts of good they do every day.

Now this July, we’ll get to experience that collective feeling of a great keynote address again at the RNL National Conference in Washington, DC. We’re back in person for the first time since 2019, and I am so excited to hear the three keynote speakers we have. Let me introduce you to them.

Byron Pitts: Sharing a story of great success in the face of tremendous adversity

BYRON PITTS, Keynote Speaker
Byron Pitts. (ABC/Heidi Gutman)

Byron Pitts is the co-anchor of ABC’s Nightline and author of the moving memoir, Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges. He has spoken at RNLNC before, and we had quite a few evaluations that said we needed to bring him back.

His story is one that is particular inspiring for anyone in higher education: raised by a single mother, he overcame illiteracy and a speech impediment to not just go to college, but later flourish as an award-winning journalist. He encourages us to strive past struggles to achieve success, challenging us to be brave enough to “step out on nothing” to reach our goals. He became a correspondent for the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric and a contributor to 60 Minutes. He won an Emmy for his coverage of Ground Zero after the September 11 attacks. And he also became a best-selling author of his memoir and his second book Be the One. Having seen him speak before, I know every single person who hears him will leave ready to help every Byron Pitts at their institution succeed.

Daniel Pink: Delivering insights on creativity and behavior

Daniel Pink
Daniel Pink

Great keynote speakers also show us ways to think differently about the things we do every day or take for granted. They often will share strategies or changes that make so much sense yet never occurred to us—and then make a major impact on how we move forward.

Daniel Pink is one of those keynote speakers. He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of deeply researched books on business, creativity, and behavior that have won multiple awards, have been translated into more than 42 languages, and have sold millions of copies around the world.His five New York Times bestsellers include his latest, The Power of Regret: How Looking Backward Moves Us Forward, as well as When, A Whole New Mind, andthe #1New York TimesbestsellersDrive andTo Sell is Human. His TED Talk on the science of motivation has been viewed more than 38 million times. He also appears frequently on NPR, PBS, and other TV and radio networks in the U.S. and abroad. I have not seen him speak, but having read his work, I know there will be a lot of enthusiastic head nods during his session and hundreds of higher ed professionals returning to campus with great ideas from his session.

Kindra Hall: Helping you tell your campus story to your students

Kinda Hall, Keynote Speaker
Kindra Hall

Kindra Hall is going to be our closing keynote, that important session that helps wrap up a conference experience and sends you home with one more burst of energy and enthusiasm. As a lifelong writer, I am especially interested in hearing her presentation because she is an award-winning storyteller.

Storytelling in business has become an increasingly in-demand skill, helping organizations deliver messages that inspire their audiences and communicate the value of their brand—something every campus needs to do with their prospective and current students. Kindra is the go-to expert in this field, the best-selling author of Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business. That book debuted at #2 on the Wall Street Journal Bestseller List, and Forbes said, “it may be the most valuable business book you read.” In January she released her highly anticipated second book, Choose Your Story, Change Your Life: Silence Your Inner Critic and Rewrite Your Life from the Inside Out. She is also the Chief Storytelling Officer at Success Magazine where she shares the inspiring, often untold, stories of achievers like Daymond John, Deepak Chopra, James Altucher and Misty Copeland in print and on the podcast Success Stories with Kindra Hall.

Find inspiration and ideas in our 120+ breakout sessions as well

2022 RNL National Conference

Being back in person means we’ve also returned to the full-scale RNL National Conference that puts you in touch with fellow campus professionals, higher ed researchers, and enrollment experts who will share strategies, research, and results that will help you find new ways to achieve your goals. We have 120+ sessions in five conference tracks that will cover:

  • Undergraduate enrollment
  • Graduate and online enrollment
  • Student success and completion
  • Financial aid management
  • Strategic enrollment planning
  • Higher ed innovations

I hope you’ll join us in D.C. and get the opportunity to hear what is the best keynote lineup we have ever put together for the conference. You can register for RNLNC and learn more here, and if you register now you’ll receive our best rate (and a special group rate if six or more attend from your institution).


About the Author

Brandon Trissler

Brandon Trissler is a marketing professional with more than 25 years of experience in higher education and educational publishing. At RNL, he is an experienced content creator, producing research reports, communications, video, and collateral covering...

Read more about Brandon's experience and expertise

Reach Brandon by e-mail at Brandon.Trissler@RuffaloNL.com.

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