The Quest #163: ⏰ The 10-minute Rule

Hello friends,

Many thanks for reading The Quest, your weekly round-up of tips and insights to help you design and lead exceptional online sessions that your group members will love.❤️

Today I’m excited to share a simple, yet powerful, session design tip that will help you boost engagement—I call it the “10-minute rule.”

I’ve been designing a lot of live sessions lately. And I’ve been reminded just how easy and effective this design hack is.

Much appreciation to Jenny Sauer-Klien – the queen of connection – for inspiring this rule.

Let’s jump right in!


I had spent hours struggling with my workshop design.

A few years ago I led an online facilitation training for a group of course creators. I had so much content I wanted to share. And 1 hour was going to be extremely tight.

To save time, I decided to ditch the first breakout.

I planned a quick welcome and introductions in the chat. Then I’d go straight into the content. I’d save the breakout for later in the session.

Big mistake!

When it came time for the first breakout – 30 minutes in – the group was still not warmed up. It was tough to get people to speak up. The chat was quiet. I felt like I was in an echo chamber-r-r-r-r.

It’s an easy mistake to make.

Often there’s a rush to get to the “meat” of your session with a lot of talking. The problem is that this creates a one-way “you-to-them” dynamic that’s tough to break.

Enter the “10-minute rule”

It’s a session design principle where you plan your first breakout within 10 minutes of the start of your session.

That may seem early especially with a packed agenda. But hands down, it’s one of the best ways you can increase engagement in the rest of your session.

Why does it work?

Neuroscience tells us that people are willing to take more risks and make mistakes if they feel they know others in the group. It builds trust and belonging which are the very foundations of engagement. Hundreds of live sessions tell me that a first breakout is one of the most effective ways to do that – even in as little as 5 minutes.

Here’s the catch.👇

The breakout has to be carefully designed. Just sticking people in a breakout to say “hey!” won’t cut it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/ 💡A well-designed prompt.

Choose a question that everyone can answer, that piques people’s curiosity, and that encourages sharing.

For example,

“What made you say yes to this session?” or

“What’s a goal you have for this session and why?”

2/ ✅Clear instructions.

Make sure your participants know exactly what to do to avoid wasting precious time. Here are some example instructions you can share verbally and drop in the chat:

✅Breakouts in pairs // 6 mins total

✅Prompt: “What made you say yes to this session?”

✅Switch at 3 minutes

How to put the 10-minute rule into practice👇

Step 1: Outline your session.

Step 2: Add your first breakout within the first 10 minutes.

Step 3: Develop a prompt and clear instructions.

Step 4: Plan the rest of your session around the first breakout.

Put it into action 💪

Give the 10-minute rule a try in your next session and watch engagement skyrocket. 🚀

Interested in more pro tips?

Consider joining the waitlist for my new on-demand course Live Session Magic 🪄 where I dive deeper into game-changing techniques like the 10-minute rule. Be the first to hear about launch dates and enjoy a special launch price. 👇

Stay tuned. Some big updates are coming very soon!


🎟️You’re Invited! Free Butter Mixer Session this Thursday, May 16th

Join me and the brilliant Butter team this week for a free 1-hour interactive live workshop “Facilitating Breakthroughs: From Insight to Impact.”

What you’ll learn:

✔️7 secrets to facilitating breakthrough moments in your session

✔️The “Story of Breakthrough” framework to captivate and resonate with your participants

Plus – you’ll see the 10-minute rule in practice, meet amazing facilitators, and you’ll experience the awesome Butter platform in action.

For more details and to secure your spot click on the image below.👇


💪This Week’s Facilitator Finds

1/ 🗣️Zoom’s Interpretation Feature. Check out Nora Scheffe’s LinkedIn post on how she used Zoom’s interpretation feature to navigate four languages in her live session.

2/🤝 Harvard’s 3 Ways to Humanise Your Async Course. I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I create Live Session Magic. Insightful tips for creating async experiences that feel personal and human.

3/ 💡Liberating Structures Website. If you haven’t explored the Liberating Structures website, I highly recommend it. You’ll pick up loads of tools and new ideas. Thanks to Kelly Terbasket for reminding me about this phenomenal free resource!


💌 Thanks for reading The Quest

I always love hearing your feedback and suggestions. Just hit reply to share your thoughts and ideas.

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Creatively yours,

Whenever you are ready there are 2 more ways I can help you:

👉Custom coaching & team training. Book a free 15-minute zero-commitment call with me to see how I can support you and your team.

👉5-week Live Online Course. The Breakthrough Facilitation course gives you tools, personalized feedback, and a proven framework for designing and leading high-engagement live sessions. Join the interest list and be the first to get the next cohort dates and discounts.

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