Do you prefer face to face coaching, telephone, online or by email. This page examines the options and the pro's and con's to help you make your choices.
So let's take an (almost) impartial look at coaching face to face and the other methods of working with clients.
Traditionally the most common methods of coaching has been Face to Face, One on One and is still the preferred option for many coaches and clients.
The pros of coaching face to face:
You get the whole picture of the client and can read their body language as well as listening to what they say.
It also makes life easier in getting folders and processes to and from them if they are not computer and email savvy which could be the case for say retirement coaching.
And the drawbacks:
Firstly it limits your geographic demographic of clients to those those who are comparatively local if you are to meet with them regularly.
Secondly, if you are coaching face to face from home you will need a dedicated space set up (the dining room table doesn’t really cut it if you want top notch clients) . You may even have to hire a room which adds more expense.
Then there is traveling. If the client comes to you, no problem, but if you are traveling to their home or office it can be time consuming as well as petrol and fares. Suddenly your calculated hourly rate on your coaching face to face choice is not looking good. In fact many coaches now charge more for coaching face to face
I’ll admit up front I’m a fan of of phone coaching. I decided this was how to life coach almost from day 1 when phone was the only remote coaching option! As well as face to face clients, I have had clients in Europe and the US who I have never met, yet we have had as strong a bond as any I have coached face to face.
The pro's of phone coaching:
All those things that are the disadvantages of face-to-face.
You can connect with your client just as deeply and effectively as having them in the same room by developing excellent listening and phone communication skills.
In fact, without the confront of being face-to-face, a client may feel safer and is often prepared to be far more intimate and revealing of true issues that are going on.
However you DO still need somewhere quiet and private where you won’t be interrupted. And you do need to and to invest in a top quality headset. There is a good choice of these with user reviews on Amazon.
You don’t have to travel, get dressed up, make cups of tea, or politely eat a fattening morning tea gift from the client. You also don’t need to have a dedicated work space that is fit to bring clients into.
There are clients, who simply don’t get or want to get the concept of phone coaching and pass you up, for someone who will do face to face.
A good solution is to invite such a client to try a free phone session so they can see how it works.
If they don't like it you can simply revert to the face to face method or suggest you work within a Skype environment which as you will read below gives you the best of both worlds.
Local clients will often want to meet you in person before they commit to coaching, so maybe have the first meeting or even the first session face-to-face, and then switching to telephone with the occasional get together is another way to go.
Since the introduction of Skype and similar computer communication programs into our lives, nothing has been quite the same when it comes to delivering life coaching. If your clients are computer savvy you can get the best of coaching face-to-face and telephone contact by using Skype. You can read about connecting to Skype here.
If you both have a webcam on your computer you will be able to see each other during the session wherever you both are. And you can always turn the camera off after the initial session, if you find it distracting.
Assuming you already have a wireless or broadband connection into your home or office, Skype usage costs a fraction of your monthly internet usage.
Also, there is nothing better than Skype compared with the cost of conventional international phoning.
With Skype, you can also use the chat option for 'in- between' session catch-ups which is almost the same as having a conversation. And it is also possible to share files whilst you are talking and even share the screen if necessary, so that one of you can see what the other is looking at.
Email Life Coaching
Many coaches offer email contact in between sessions which is extremely valuable to the client if they are suddenly stuck or want to share a win. It is also an excellent way of communicating with clients when they and or you are traveling.
However I can't recommend it as the sole method of working with clients.
Emails are too one-dimensional and there is too much room for misunderstandings on both sides because there is no actual conversation with tone and inflection. A bit like social media.
The client may be emailing you what they want you to hear and you won't be able to pick up on what may they may not be telling you as you can with communication face to face or by telephone. (And it is usually what is not being said that needs spotting and drawing out.)
Using an online software program is becoming a popular way of leveraging coaching.
These programs are often marketed by experienced coaches or consultants looking for extra income and some of them, are excellent in taking the client through the goal planning and life planning process.
The software programs may be very comprehensive and ask the hard questions but I believe to be truly coached the client really needs a dedicated professional to properly draw out information and from that information ask more relevant questions.
Life Coaching is an interaction between two people that needs a bigger and more personal communication dimension than following a generic process.
However, they can be useful as an add-on where a coach personally guides the client through the processes. My book, Be Your Own Goals Coach can stand alone but is also useful as a coaching aid with a bonus chapter for coaches. Have a look at the preview and see what you think.
So there you have it. Lots of options on how to life coach.
The key is to be willing to be flexible. Remember it is also the client's choice. And you need to have a plan B if you really want them as a client but they don't want to work the way you prefer?