How to Plan a Productive Coaching Session in 8 Simple Steps

When getting ready for group or 1-1 coaching sessions, there are some steps you should take to ensure they go smoothly. With the right structure, your sessions will likely work out the way you want them to, leaving both you and your clients satisfied. However, you might be unfamiliar with the planning process or looking for a better approach to preparation.

The following is a guide on preparing for a coaching session to help you get the most from your sessions.

1. Understand Clients and Their Needs

The first step you should take when planning your coaching sessions is to get to know your clients and build a rapport with them. Understanding your clients as people will give your sessions a huge boost. Consider the specific needs and wants of the client, including their starting point, skill levels, and what they plan to achieve with the coaching session. This knowledge will equip you before you start actually planning the 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 equipment or facilities.

Additionally, you should consider other aspects of your sessions and clients, including the number of people involved in the coaching session—a group's coaching session structure will be considerably different from a 1-1 coaching session. 

Find out what kinds of requirements your clients have when it comes to language, culture, and the specific level of communication they can understand based on skills. Also, determine their level of ability and experience. When it comes to language, 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 to achieve? 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 SMART goals to help you decide on the right goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and 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 might not know whether your session was actually a success.

Apart from the SMART model, you can use a couple other options to set the right goals for your sessions. One of these is the EXACT model, which helps you set goals that work with your individual persona and values. When you break down this acronym, you'll want to set goals that are explicit, "xciting," assessable, challenging, and time-framed, making it similar to the SMART model.

Another model that can help you set clear goals is the GROW model. GROW stands for "Goal," "Current Reality," "Options," and "Will." It basically 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 final destination.

3. Split the Session into Different Time Slots

You'll only have a limited amount of 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 with him or her.

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

You and your client should also 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. This would make coaching sessions invaluable as clients walk away with newly developed problem-solving skills.

6. Develop a Specific Plan

Another key step to take is to put together an action plan with the client. This plan would detail what future actions the client would need to take to meet his or her 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. Put Together a Contingency Plan for the Coaching Session

In addition to helping your client plan ahead during your session, you must prepare for any potential issues that could affect the actual coaching session.

You can 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

8. Implement a Dependable Online Coaching Platform

Another crucial element to consider with virtual sessions is the type of software you want to use. To help you get the best results with each session, you should use an all-in-one online coaching platform that helps you complete every task. The right solution will give you access to all of the features you need to optimize productivity, including video conferencing for virtual sessions, 

Taking all of these steps can help you gear your coaching sessions for success. 

FAQs About Planning Coaching Sessions

How do you create a productive coaching session?

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

How do you structure a coaching session?

There are a few key elements of a successful coaching session. These include:

  • 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 where they can discuss and reflect on what they've learned in the session or physically recover from activities. 

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

How do you run a successful coaching session?

There's a lot involved in running a successful coaching session of any kind. 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 that you and your client want. You should also consider investing in good online coaching software that facilitates each session.

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 then explore specific issues the client is facing and potential solutions to them. You'll also want to discuss accountability to establish that the client is responsible for the path they take after the coaching session.

Use Reliable Coaching Software to Fully Prepare Your Coaching Sessions

Knowing how to structure coaching sessions can ensure they're productive throughout. In the process, you should make sure you have the tools you need to help with planning, conducting sessions, reviewing the results of each session, and optimizing your plans for future sessions. Doing so can help you get the best results from every session.

Profi can help by offering you some of the best coaching software available, whether you're an executive, life, health, or another type of coach. Book a Demo with one of our Product Coaches today to learn more about the benefits and capabilities of our innovative online coaching platform.

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