The Quest #165:💡The Dimmer Switch Principle

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.❤️

I’m excited to share a simple, yet powerful, session design tip that will help you boost engagement in your live sessions —I call it the “Dimmer Switch Principle”.

It’s the secret in getting your group members from their comfort zone into their stretch zone – without sending them straight into their panic zone.

Let’s jump right in!


Hands up if you’ve ever faced the dreaded wall of silence at the start of your live session.

Picture this: people start appearing on your screen, settling in with muted microphones as the room fills. The chat remains ominously quiet. You begin to wonder, “Why isn’t anyone talking?”

Welcome to the ‘engagement void’.

It’s all too easy to assume participants are ready to dive into deep discussions right off the bat. But in that silence, your group members scan for cues and signals to engage. Instead, they enter a void.

Here’s a simple truth:

Most people enter your session with their ‘engagement switch’ firmly in the OFF position. This is especially true in virtual settings, where you don’t have the informal chit-chat that you have IRL to ease in.

Enter the 💡Dimmer Switch Principle💡

It’s a session design principle that helps you turn the engagement switch firmly ON.

But instead of flipping the engagement switch to full intensity all at once you increase the intensity gradually.

Why does it work?

Our brains prioritize safety and predictability, making us want to stick to our comfort zones. But if you stay in the comfort zone things can get predictable and boring. Too much risk can push your group members into their panic zone where people can feel blind sighted and shut down.

The Dimmer Switch helps you find the ‘stretch zone’.

Just beyond the comfort zone lies the ✨stretch zone✨. That’s where we feel challenged. And that’s where learning and innovation happens. By gradually turning up the level of risk, your participants can stretch their abilities without feeling overwhelmed.

Here’s how you can bring the Dimmer Switch Principle to life in your sessions:

1/ Start Simple: Begin with low-risk activities that help your group members start the process of building trust, safety, and belonging.

👉For example, start with an easy poll or prompt question in the chat

“A highlight from your past week.”

2/ Gradually Increase the Intensity: Once you’ve established trust, slowly introduce more challenging elements and nudge the conversation deeper.

👉For example, a breakout that invites group members to share aspirations, goals, challenges overcome, successes, and dreams.

“Something you’re proud of and why?”

3/ Monitor and Adjust: Pay close attention to how the group is responding.

👉If the silence persists, you may need to dial back the intensity. If participants are engaged, keep coming back to the stretch zone.

Put it into action 💪

If you find engagement waning, think of the dimmer switch. How could you adjust the dial to find your group’s stretch zone?

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 Dimmer Switch principle. Be the first to hear about launch dates and enjoy a special launch price. 👇


💪This Week’s Facilitator Finds

1/ 🧈Butter’s Facilitation for All Wiki. A mind-blowing curated resource toolkit by the Butter Community with free templates, facilitation articles and activities. H/T Anamaria Dorgo for curating the list and to Rachel Davis for sharing!

2/ Joyful Persistence Creativity Talk. An inspiring UBC commencement talk by Sarah Leavitt with tips for finding deep joy in creative practice. In case you are looking for some creative inspiration! Via Austin Kleon’s newsletter.

3/ 4 Steps to Getting Testimonials. A LinkedIn post with Jay Clouse’s expert tips for getting stellar testimonials. If you run online courses or sell digital products – this post is for you.


💌 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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