You’ve signed your first coaching client. Congratulations!
Now, you need to show up and learn how to conduct a coaching session for your client. At this point, many new coaches become stuck.
They worry about what to say. How to take charge of the conversation. Whether they can even help their clients.
If this is you, take a deep breath and relax. All your concerns are normal.
These doubts are a creation of your primitive brain. They come from the part of you that would rather retreat to safety and abandon your new coaching business.
We all have negative voices in our heads. Especially when we’re stepping out and doing something new. The secret is to acknowledge the voices. Then keep moving forward anyway.
Don’t let self-doubt deter you when you’ve already come so far. You are an amazing coach. And running a coaching session doesn’t have to be complex.
In this post, I provide a simple outline for your coaching sessions. This will work regardless or your coaching niche – whether you’re a health coach, a business coach or any other kind of coach.
As you gain experience you can adapt this structure to suit you and your clients. But this will help you when starting out.
For an in-depth post on how to start your coaching business, check out this post: Ultimate Guide: How To Start A Life Coaching Business.
And for a complete guide on how to start your coaching business, check out my book Make Money As A Life Coach. When you follow the steps in this book you’ll not only start your business, you’ll also sign your first paying client(s) in as little as 30 days.
How To Conduct A Coaching Session
After a quick opening to establish rapport, most of your conversation is spent asking questions to explore your client’s thinking and to look at the path forward.
The session usually ends with laying out some action steps to take. Below is a five-step structure you can follow in your coaching sessions.
And if you haven’t yet signed your first client, I also recommend reading this post on how to conduct a discovery call.
Okay, here’s how to conduct a coaching session…
Step 1. Ice Breaker
Spend the first couple of minutes reconnecting with your client and have them get present to the session. Sometimes, you can even ask your client to focus on a few breaths in order to be centered and present to the coaching session. This need only take one to two minutes.
Step 2. Recap Successes
Next, follow up from the previous session and see what new learnings the client has realized for themselves. Acknowledge and celebrate any new successes your client has. Also note down any major issues that may have crept up.
Step 3. Select A Topic
Having a topic and asking your client what they want to get from the topic is important. This gives the session a focus, so that your client can get some clarity and come up with actions to move forward on.
Coaching is mainly about forward movement. Without a focus for the session, you can spend too much time with the client rehashing a story and not getting anywhere.
Step 4. Explore Topic
Most of the coaching session will be spent helping your client in the following ways:
- Getting clarity around the topic they’ve brought to the session.
- Exploring their current versus desired state.
- Uncovering what the mindset block is, if any. Help reflect to your client what they’re not seeing, without making them wrong. Address what thoughts and feelings are getting in the way. How would your client like to be instead? Who would they have to be?
- Helping them see new insight, realize something new in themselves.
- Sometimes, a bolder approach is needed to show your client how they are getting in their own way. Or how some story that they’re holding onto is not serving them.
- Providing advice if the topic is around a gap that the client has, and you can fulfill. Note this is more in the realm of consulting, so acknowledge you’re providing consulting rather than coaching when the need arises.
Step 5. Review Options And Agree Next Steps
From the bulk of the coaching session, start bringing it together to help your client identify what new options are available to them and what they will choose for themselves.
The session typically ends with some type of action item that will help your client move forward on the area of focus. This could be choosing one of the options identified in the session and taking action on it.
Other times, the action item will be an exercise, e.g. journaling to get further clarity on what was uncovered during the session.
The key is to have some accountability on what they will do after the call and by when. There’s something about announcing an action out loud that helps to reinforce this commitment.
After The Coaching Session
Now you know how to conduct a coaching session, there’s just one more thing to think about. What to do after the call finishes.
Whether your client completes the action or not, is not for you to judge. If they do it, then celebrate and check for what they learnt about themselves from taking this action. If they didn’t do it, get curious.
Maybe they came up with a more suitable action, maybe a real emergency did come up, maybe it helped them realize that something else was what they really wanted. Or, over time you start to spot that they keep procrastinating or making excuses for themselves and that becomes something else to coach around and help them with.
Most of your client’s transformation happens between calls. Don’t get attached to your client taking a specific action or realizing certain results. Your clients are resourceful and in charge of their lives.
Also do not see their failure to complete something as a failure on your part. Your job as a coach is to show up as your best self and show your client their own mind. You’re not responsible for your client’s actions and results. They are.
Map Our Your Call Structure & Start Coaching
When you’re starting out, having a structure will help you manage the direction of your client calls.
Being organized and having a plan is an important part of scaling your coaching business. It will help you feel in control and always know how to conduct a coaching session with confidence.
I recommend you write out your call structure and keep it in front of you during your client sessions. You can then use this as a checklist to make sure you remain on track during your coaching calls.
For example, your structure may look as follows (this is for a 60-minute coaching call):
- Ice breaker (2 minutes)
- Recap success (2 minutes)
- Select a topic (1 minute)
- Explore topic (45 minutes)
- Review options and agree next steps (10 minutes)
As you become more experienced, this structure will become natural to you and you will no longer need to refer to your notes.
Also, while having a plan is helpful, don’t let the structure you map out constrain you. Be aware of each client’s individual needs and how you can best serve them.