Designing Guidelines For Connection

People who attend our events often say that we attract an amazing audience full of kind, welcoming, open-minded people.

And it’s true! 😁

While our community tends to draw a lot of “really good” people, it’s actually the environment we set and create together that allows people to show up as their best selves.

The secret to this environment is designing guidelines that invite everyone to co-create a warm, welcoming, and open environment through a shared set of mindsets and behaviors.

Think of guidelines as the cultural context of an event. You may think of these as “rules of engagement” or “agreements”. Just as companies use values to shape the culture of their organizations, we use guidelines to shape the culture of our experiences.



If we don’t intentionally define how we want people to behave, they will automatically fall into default mode, and settle into how they think they’re supposed to act. Most likely this means being a passive observer, and letting the event happen to them, rather than being an active contributor and participant.

If you want to create an intentional culture that is unique and specific to your event, you must define it.

Ideally you will develop 3-6 well-defined and upheld guidelines that speak to your desired values and behaviors.



After designing many events and programs, we’ve identified two specific questions that help to develop guidelines and create an intentional culture to lay the foundations for psychological safety:

What are the mindsets that would help participants get the most out of their experience?
How can you address fears, concerns, or resistances that participants might have?

The first question invites you to consider this through a more positive lens by asking, “what do you want people to experience?” In other words, what are the ideal feelings and takeaways you hope your participants leave with?

The second question is more about what you want to avoid or mitigate for your participants. For one reason or another, people may be coming into the experience with feelings of uncertainty, pessimism, skepticism, and/or fear.

Different combinations of guidelines will create a completely different atmosphere. Imagine an event where the guidelines are “act boldly, defy authority, and laugh at your mistakes,” vs. “slow is fast, listen with your heart, and trust your intuition.” These sets of guidelines would create totally different tones and expectations about how to conduct ourselves in these environments.

As a facilitator, you have a powerful opportunity to invite a mindset shift through your guidelines, instill a sense of belonging, and level the playing field. Here are a few examples of guidelines we typically use in our programs to invite everyone into the culture of our experience, along with specific behaviors to help people grasp what they mean in practice:

  • FULL PARTICIPATION: Be present, focused, on video
  • BRING YOUR BEST: Do the best you can with the time and information you have, share generously, uplift everyone, take care of your needs
  • EXPAND YOUR EDGE: Get comfortable being uncomfortable, make a new mistake, try it on and keep what works

From great guidelines, a mini-culture emerges that we all create together by living into them. An environment where people are present, open, and connected.

Once you create an atmosphere that allows people to feel comfortable and connected, their true selves show up to participate, and that’s when the magic happens.