Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident
That definition talks very specifically about the style you need to project. The realisation of that ranges from your own body language, to maintaining eye contact to reacting appropriately to key inputs from the client. That is a very neutral view but how does this translate to online coaching? Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has changed towards a more online or hybrid world. From a coaches perspective, this brings new client opportunities and more flexibility in scheduling. From a client's perspective they can do this in the comfort of their home and remove any stigma they might feel about going to a coaches office for a session. The basic needs are an internet connection, a good camera and a device to run an online call through. However, that is and remains a seismic shift for coaches who are used to in person interactions. It’s also a challenge for coaches like me, who pursued my accreditation and who has since predominantly coached online. How do you remain genuine? How do you show your presence? How do you keep track of the clients' conversations? This blog contains 7 tips and tricks, both technical and personal, that should help you maintain your presence from the clients perspective.
- Invest in a good standalone webcam. In-built cameras on laptops aren’t of a high enough quality and suffer from positioning. Invest in a free standing webcam that you can mount on the top of your monitor / laptop. Play with positioning based on how you sit and ensure that you are comfortable and more importantly naturally looking in the direction of the camera
- Alter where you look when you are talking and listening. The temptation is to talk to the client's picture on your screen but that results in your not making eye contact with the client. When you need to speak, talk directly to the camera. When you are listening, alternate between glancing at the camera, especially when you have a body language to convey in a non judgemental manner sich as nodding your head, smiling, and the screen, so you can observe the client's own body language.
- Learn to type, if you are a coach that takes notes. Some coaches make small notes to reflect back to the client, capturing key words, statements, observations. In person that makes sense as the client still gets the experience of your awareness and presence. Online, that makes for a poor interaction as they invariably get to see the top of your head. Practice typing your notes, look to increase your familiarity with touch typing.
- Learn to mute! Especially if you are typing, mute your microphone. With silence being one of our most powerful tools, it gives you a few seconds to unmute before you speak.
- Clear out your environment. Close open applications to avoid distractions. Have a clean desk to avoid fidgeting or interacting with objects in your peripheral vision. Have an uncluttered background so as to not distract the client. Consider investing in a green screen to have a more neutral background.
- Seek feedback. This can be in a non coaching session where you ask others about your setup and your presence. Ask your clients what you can do to make remote sessions better for them? Have a fellow coach observe you and offer their feedback.
- Embrace the change. This is a positive step for the profession and the more you learn about your style the more investment you can make in your own changes and in the hardware that you use.