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5 Things to consider when teaching others how to coach virtually

While many businesses have been forced to move into the online environment, entrepreneurs are faced with the challenge of developing new skills they never needed before. One of the main ones is online coaching.

Wellness specialists, sports instructors, life and business coaches are used to working in face-to-face situations. Now, they find themselves in a pickle as what they did successfully before the crisis may not be working in the new (mostly virtual) normal.

Read more: 10 Types of businesses that thrive through online courses

Coaching skills courses can be a good business for e-learning designers, especially since they are already competent in the field. Here are some ideas about what a coaching course should look like to be competitive.

1. The virtual component

When the lockdown happened, companies sent their people home and asked them to keep working from there, mostly pretending it was the same thing as going into the office.

It’s not.

At all.

As a person living on a different continent than most of my family, I can testify that while video conferencing is a godsend, it’s not even remotely close to meeting in person. Neither is taking a yoga class in your living room, even if the instructor is the same.

The first thing that needs to be addressed is how all parties perceive it. The questions of engagement, space management, and feedback are all essential for a successful session.

2. The importance of values and expectations

Being a coach means getting relatively close to the coacheé and knowing what makes them tick.

People looking for guidance of any kind are generally keen on changing something – their views, their behaviors, and sometimes their lives. That’s a very tall order as it’s common knowledge that individuals are naturally set in their ways. It takes a lot of effort to make big behavioral changes, even when desired at a conscious level.

Since the virtual setting puts a lot of distance and quite a few barriers in the way of natural interaction, coaches need to learn how to ask the right questions and get the relevant information to then be able to create the most compelling experiences.

3. Finding motivators and motivations

As I’ve mentioned above, people can be painfully aware of a need for change yet find it impossible to move in that direction. This is probably the most significant challenge that coaches face – identifying the right motivators and employing them to benefit the process.

Avoidance is a lot easier in a virtual environment, and the general situation offers more than enough excuses for not pushing oneself. For coaches to be successful, they need to understand how human motivation works.

Once more, the virtual component of the sessions needs to be taken into account. Find innovative ways to encourage commitment and accountability in a firm but non-invasive way.

4. Listening more than talking

In a traditional face-to-face coaching situation, it’s assumed that after the initial assessment, the coach is the one doing most of the guiding (mainly through asking the right questions and providing the appropriate insights).

When we are talking about virtual coaching, many body language indicators are lost in the pixels, so the coach must insist on getting active input from the coachees and do a lot more listening to what they are saying.

With all the talk about how immersive and interactive online experiences can be, they also have the potential of becoming unilateral, dull occurrences if there isn’t an ongoing effort to make them effective.

Read more: Things to keep in mind if you want to make your online course more interactive

5. The right setup for the sessions

This aspect is often overlooked because many think that the logistics have been all figured out by now. While it’s true that most online instructors and coaches have found more or less creative solutions to the challenges they face, a few pro tips are still very welcome.

If you are designing a course for coaches, make sure you include information about how their workspace should look like, the best acoustics, the lighting, and the basic tech and non-tech equipment that would make the experience better. These aspects are essential in making sure that the end-user experience is a positive one and they will be not only returning but recommending it to their peers.

Read more: How to look good on video when facilitating live online courses

Closing thoughts

For a long time, coaching was something that sounded good, and everyone was an "expert." Right now, it has become an essential tool for moving many businesses (and individuals) forward, so offering the insight and tools for doing it right is a great opportunity for e-learning designers.

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