How to Plan a Coaching Session in 7 Simple Steps

On average, a coaching session typically spans 55 minutes. Have you ever found that it just doesn't provide ample time to deliver the knowledge and value your clients truly deserve?

You're certainly not alone. Many coaches need to work on the consistency between their session plans and the actual outcomes.

But fear not, the solution is found. Kickstart your journey with the proper planning of effective coaching sessions.

Read on to find out how to plan a coaching session to provide a personalized approach, leaving each client feeling well-informed, motivated, and satisfied.

What an effective coaching session is about

How do you measure the effectiveness of your coaching session? Is it client satisfaction, the growth they achieve, or perhaps those moments when you feel you could have done more during the session but didn't? All of these factors matter. However, before we dive into the magic of planning, let's explore what truly makes a coaching session effective.

A successful coaching session hinges on the seamless integration of 5 core coaching competencies.

  • Active listening takes precedence, serving as the bedrock for forging a profound coach-client rapport. It's about listening not just to words but to emotions and energies, unraveling the deeper layers of the client's narrative.
  • Precision of goal setting ensures both coach and client co-create clear, SMART goals that guide the coaching process.
  • A non-judgmental communication style fosters an inclusive and judgment-free space for transformative self-discovery.
  • Feedback and questions catalyzes profound client insights, igniting the spark of personal and professional evolution.
  • Accountability holds clients to the fire, ensuring commitment to their journey and goals.

Coaching session plan by Solo and by Team: are there any differences?

Did you know that the size of your practice plays a crucial role in coaching session planning? Solo practitioners and coaching team members employ different techniques for successful session planning.

Coaching session plan: Solo

If you're a solo practitioner, your approach centers around forging deep, personal connections with your clients. It allows you to create sessions tailored to their unique needs and goals. You have the flexibility and autonomy to plan sessions as you see fit because you're a boss.

Coaching session plan: Team

However, when you're part of a coaching team within a service provider, the planning process becomes complex; it requires you to consider:

  • In-house policies and guidelines for proper coaching session planning
  • The team's specific requirements for the planning process
  • Corporate values that guide your approach

In both scenarios, the core principles remain constant: a client-centered approach built on trust, empathy, and a supportive environment for personal growth. Nevertheless, the art of planning coaching sessions adjusts to the specific context.

Coaching session planning: Solo vs Team

How to plan a coaching session: step-by-step guideline

1. Understand Clients and Their Needs

Get to know your clients and build a rapport with them. Understanding your clients as people will give your sessions a considerable boost. Consider the specific needs and wants of the client, including:

  • their starting point
  • skill levels
  • what they plan to achieve with the coaching session

You should also take into account how the client's needs will affect your own and guide preparation. For example, depending on the nature of the session, you might need certain types of software, equipment, or facilities.

Additionally, you should keep in mind other aspects of your sessions and clients, including the number of people involved in the coaching session — a group coaching session will be considerably different from a 1:1 coaching session.

Find out what requirements your clients have regarding language, culture, and the specific level of communication they can understand based on skills. Determine their level of ability and experience. Think about both spoken and body language. If you can mirror clients by using their language in every way, this will make communication far more effective.

2. Set Clear Goals for Your Session

With a deeper understanding of your clients ahead of the session, you can set specific goals for each session. What exactly do you want to achieve with your session, and what do your clients want? Try to paint a picture of what the ideal session would look like and how it would help meet your client's needs.


When setting goals for your sessions, you can use a SMART goals concept:

S - Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Time-based

In using this principle, make sure you have a way of measuring any goals you set to gauge the results of your session. Otherwise, you may not know whether your session was a success.


The EXACT model helps you set goals that work with individual persona and values. When you break down this acronym, you'll want to set goals that are:

E - Explicit

X - "Xciting"

A - Assessable

C - Challenging

T - Time-framed


Another model that can help you set clear goals is the GROW model. GROW stands for

G - Goal

R - Reality

O - Options

W - Will

It involves going on a journey, starting with your goal, which is where you want to go. You then look at where you are in your "Current Reality" before considering the "Options" regarding the path you want to take. Finally, "Will" entails committing to that journey until you reach your destination.

3. Split the Session into Different Time Slots

You'll only have a limited time to conduct your coaching session, making effective time management crucial. So, you should consider dividing the session into different sections to make the most of it.

Start by determining all of the subjects you want to cover in your session. Then you can figure out how much time you'll need to devote to each. You'll then be able to divide the session with enough time for each topic. This will help ensure that you cover everything you need to cover within a single session.

4. Get Clients to Look at Their Challenges from a New Perspective

After identifying the specific challenges that your clients are facing, you can work with them to reframe them. One of the best ways to solve any issue is to look at it another way, which you can help your clients do.

Reframing is one of the most important skills to have when facing any type of challenge. Engaging in this practice is critical for contextualizing the issue in a different way and thinking outside the box.

Once you start reframing with your client, you can begin exploring different potential solutions together and think about the impact of each solution.

5. Decide on the Appropriate Action and Support for It

Based on the problem the client is facing, you can work together to decide on the right course of action to take. The client should commit to a particular action that you can then support.

When deciding on the correct action, think about what might impede it. What could keep your client from succeeding, and what are some ways to get around these potential obstacles?

Think about how the client will reinforce their commitment to the action.

Working on this with the client could help them learn how to solve their problems on their own as they consider the various solutions and outcomes. It would make coaching sessions invaluable as clients walk away with newly developed problem-solving skills.

6. Develop a Specific Plan

Put together an action plan with the client to detail what future actions the client would need to take to meet their goals.

When collaborating on an action plan, take the amount of time between sessions into consideration. For example, if your client doesn't book another session until the next month, the action plan should cover that month in between.

7. Create a Contingency Plan for the Coaching Session

In addition to helping your client plan ahead, you should be ready for any potential issues that could affect the actual coaching session. Avoid various issues by developing a solid contingency plan. For instance, you might need to plan for unexpected events such as:

  • Illnesses that could affect both parties and prevent in-person or even virtual attendance
  • Adverse weather impacting outdoor sessions
  • An insufficient number of participants in a group session
  • Possible misalignments in approach, method or how you work together

Bonus point: Coaching Session Plan Example

What instruments you need to plan a coaching session

  • Session Planner: You can use a notebook or a Google Spreadsheet for this purpose, but what about time optimization? Relevant software can help you structure the coaching session more efficiently.
  • Assessment Instruments: To be successful, it's crucial to keep data-driven session planning in mind. Utilize assessment tools or surveys to gather and analyze data regarding the coachee's satisfaction and progress.
  • Note-Taking Tools: Use software to take notes during the session and capture important points, action items, and insights. You can choose from digital note-taking apps or dedicated coaching software to streamline the process and focus on the details.
  • Technology Products: In today's digital-first landscape, coaching session planning can be challenging without a robust solution for online coaching sessions. Look for software that includes built-in video conferencing, scheduling, client management modules, and more. Having relevant coaching management software on hand will help you approach session planning effectively.

How Profi helps you plan a Productive Coaching Session

Considering the range of instruments you need to plan coaching sessions properly, you can use several single-purpose software solutions such as scheduling tools, video conferencing products, note-taking apps, etc. However, this approach might make your workflow more complex, which affects your efficiency and clients' satisfaction. At this point, Profi's all-in-one solution comes to the rescue.

Profi is an end-to-end operating platform for professional services firms that supports scaling coaching, consulting, training, and therapy business. It was designed to provide a holistic, intuitive platform for profis to grow and scale their business — so they can help more people and deliver better client experience.

Profi is a market-proven tool that helps you plan your coaching sessions in a fraction of the time due to broad functionality, including:

  • Client management
  • Online course & program creation
  • Hybrid learning experiences delivery & management
  • HIPAA-compliant video conferencing & messaging
  • Notes
  • Scheduling for individual & group sessions
  • Intake form templates
  • Visibility & control
  • Reporting

Find out how Profi touches every session in your schedule.

Book a personalized demo with one of our specialists, or use the Solo Free Trial to see why it’s so effective for your coaching session planning.

FAQs About Planning Coaching Sessions

1. How do you create a productive coaching session?

Through adequate planning and preparation, you can hold the ideal coaching session with your clients. Not only should you use the proper practices, but you should also make sure you have the right coaching platform to equip you with the resources you need fully.

2. How do you structure a coaching session?

  • Warm-up — This step involves preparing for the session through certain warm-up activities. These activities will implement the specific skills involved in the session. In physical coaching sessions, for instance, you would want to stretch and perform other warm-up exercises that help prevent injury.
  • Skills and delivery — During the actual session, you would put your skills to the test and make sure that the session incorporates all of the elements you want to include.
  • Cool down and review — Participants should have a cool-down period to discuss and reflect on what they've learned in the session or physically recover from activities.

3. What are the four parts of a coaching session?

The four main stages of a coaching session include:

  1. Preparation
  2. Analysis & Exploration
  3. Coaching
  4. Action

4. How do you run a successful coaching session?

There's a lot involved in running a successful coaching session. You will need to know how to prepare a coaching session beforehand, which involves building a rapport with the client. You'll also need to lay out an action plan that drives the results you and your client want. You should also consider investing in good online coaching software that facilitates each session.

5. What should I discuss during coaching sessions?

There are several items you'll want to discuss during coaching sessions. The first is what the client wants to get out of the session and what goals they want to achieve. You can explore specific issues the client faces and potential solutions to them. Discuss accountability to establish that the client is responsible for the path they take after the coaching session.

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