As a coach, group coaching calls can be the absolute WORST. If you don't know what you're doing...
If you’re like many of the coaches I’ve worked with over the years, transitioning from coaching 1-on-1 to coaching in a group format can seem like a gargantuan task. One of the hardest parts of group coaching is just that- coaching in a group.
How do you keep the same level of magic, intimacy, and effectiveness in your coaching when you’re working with a room of 20 or even 50 people instead of just one? It can feel like a gargantuan task.
In order for a group coaching call to be engaging and effective for your clients, you’ve got to have 2 things nailed down: Structure and Skillset.
When your call doesn’t have the right structure, it turns into an endless stream of non sequitur questions. Each person is impatiently waiting their turn to speak to you. When the do finally get into the hot seat, they bubble over and excitedly run through a list of 20 questions that have been swirling around in their head all week. You try to answer as best you can, but in the end, you fear that nothing has really been accomplished, they’re still stuck, and you’re exhausted and need a nap.
What’s even worse is that, even if you have a structure in place, if you haven’t mastered the skillset required to run your group calls, you leave your clients hanging. They feel unseen. They don’t know how to apply the coaching you’re doing with other clients to their own situation. Everyone walks away from the call feeling more confused than when they arrived. And if you’re not careful, they’ll start to associate that confusion with your coaching or the program itself. And that’s a one-way ticket to unhappy clients.
We don’t want that.
Here’s the thing: Group coaching can be just as effective as a one-on-one session. In fact, when run well, a group coaching call can actually provide more clarity and insight than a solo call ever could.
So let's talk about the 2 components of a group coaching call that gets results:
When structuring our call, we’re looking to do 4 distinct things:
[A note on call mechanics: We run group calls via zoom. Clients are automatically muted upon entering the call. When asking questions, we have them type their answers into the chat. If we want to invite someone into the hot seat for some spot coaching, we ask their permission first and then unmute them.]
1.) Celebrate Wins
We open every call by celebrating client’s wins from the week before. Why? Because it anchors them in their success and reminds them of the progress they’ve made with us. When you are continually counting your wins, you’re more likely to take action and more likely to be having a great experience in a program.
2.) Acknowledge the Lessons
Next, we want to ask clients to share what they’ve learned in the past week. This could be an ah-ha from a piece of content. A lesson from their life or business. Or a new skill or concept that they’ve learned while implementing.
The purpose of acknowledging lessons is to reinforce the idea that your program and your coaching are centered around learning and IMPLEMENTATION. Clients shouldn’t just be coming to calls to ask questions, they should be going through your program material and implementing.
3.) Identify the Leverage
Next, we ask clients to identify their leverage point. A leverage point is the 1 or 2 tasks that a client can complete this week that will have the most impact on the bottom line.
Why do we draw attention to these tasks? To clear away confusion and keep clients focuse on the ONE thing that is going to move the needle in their life/ business. Most of the time clients get stuck not because they don’t know what to do. But because they don’t know what to do first.
4.) Uncover Obstacles
Now we’ve arrived at the juicy part. We want to ask clients to identify what’s in the way of them completing their leverage task. Is there a piece of content or a resource they need? A question that needs to be answered? A problem that has to be solved?
Ask them to identify anything standing in the way of accomplishing their leverage task.
Pro tip: When clients are listing their obstacles, ask them to self-identify potential solutions. Most of the time, a client has a pretty good idea of how to solve their own problem, they’re just looking for a bit of reassurance or clarity from you. You can often help them solve their own problem by simply asking them to come up with solutions on the spot.
“Now I want you to think of the biggest thing that’s getting in your way when it comes to your leverage task. What’s the problem that you need to solve on todays call. Put it in the chat AND I want you to list 2 possible solutions that you’ve been considering to solve the problem. List them out for me: Problem. Solution 1. Solution 2.”
Doing this allows you to easily scan through the chat and give people your advice rapid-fire. Solving many problems at once.
Having a clear structure to your calls allows you to focus on bringing value and actually coaching your clients.
Which brings us to skillset.
In order to make your call effective, you’ve got to be able to manage a large group of people, answer as many questions as you can, and make sure everyone leaves having received clarity and value from the call.
How do you do this?
By practicing a few skills and deploying them throughout the call.
What does everyone who attends your group calls want the most? To feel seen, heard, and acknowledged. You do this by actually acknowledging them by name throughout the call.
When they join the call (even if they’re late) take a second to welcome them by name.
Example: “Hey Brad. Welcome. Good to see you.”
You also want to acknowledge them when they engage with you. When they type a response into the chat, acknowledge them again by name and thank them.
Example: “Susan says she booked 3 new clients this week. Let’s give it up for Susan. Amazing work!.”
While you won’t be able to acknowledge and respond to every comment, you want to get in the habit of making acknowledgement something that you’re doing continuously throughout the call. This helps eliminate the feeling of anonymity that often happens in most group calls.
This is a group coaching call, after all. So you’re going to coach!
This is the fun part. It’s where you work your magic and serve your people. Throughout the call (especially when uncovering obstacles) you’ll want to highlight a few people’s responses and unmute them for a couple minutes of personal coaching.
A few guidelines: Be direct about setting boundaries around this coaching. You’ve got a room full of people, so when you invite someone to unmute themselves and interact with you, put a time frame on it.
Example: “Bobby’s got a really good question. Bobby I’m going to unmute you and you’re going to take 30 seconds to give me some context and then we’ll spend a minute or 2 solving the problem together.”
If someone starts to dive into a story or tries to deluge you with a stream of consciousness, you can lovingly pull them back to focus to keep the call on track.
Example: “I’m going to stop you there. I know there’s a lot we could go into, but I want to make sure we solve your biggest problem and give other people a chance to get some coaching, so let’s come back to what we were focused on.”
It takes time to get comfortable coaching with such strong boundaries, but when you do, you’ll be running your calls like a pro.
How do you keep the rest of the room engaged when you’re doing a bit of spot coaching with a particular client?
By extracting the value of their question.
When you’ve been coaching your clients for a period of time, you often discover that you seem to be answering the same 10-20 questions over and over in one way or another. This is a good thing. It allows you to start seeing the patterns that most of the common problems in your programs have.
You want to tease out these patterns in your coaching and on your group calls.
A great way to do this is to identify the question BENEATH the question.
Example: “James, asked ____________. James, it sounds like what you’re really asking is ________ is that right?
By pulling our the deeper thread of a question it allows you to relate it back to the entire group so that they can see where they’ve had that same problem or question popping up in their own work.
That brings us to:
When you’re coaching a client during the 2 minute one-on-one segments, always relate what you’re doing back to the audience.
Ask them if they’ve ever experienced something similar.
Ask them what their biggest ah-ha was from the coaching they just saw.
Ask them how they’re going to apply that ah-ha to their own work.
You get the picture.
Always relate the coaching you’re doing back to the larger group. When you coach one person, use it as a mirror to coach everyone.
Encouraging your clients watch a coaching segment actively and relate what you’re doing back to their own life or business is one of the biggest gifts you can give them.
This type of learning (Learning by watching others learn) is some of the most powerful work you can do. All too often, we as humans tend to get so close to our own problems, patterns, and issues to actually see them clearly.
But when we see someone else struggling with the same thing, we are able to dissociate from the emotion of the situation and see the solution clearly (often for the first time.)
This type of learning (learning by watching others learn) is some of the most powerful work you can do.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll notice that throughout this process we’ve been engaging with our clients. This is key.
Asking them to participate, share insights, raise their hand, comment, chat etc.
Keeping the entire group engaged throughout the call makes it feel like you’re coaching THEM, not someone else.
It turns a group coaching call into a personal experience.Mastering this call structure takes time, practice and patience.
You won’t get it all down in your first try. But the more you work at it, the better it will get.
With this structure, and these skillsets, you’ll be able to run group calls with confidence in no time. And best of all, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that your clients are getting value, clarity, and results from every call.
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Now I want to hear from you. Have you been avoiding transitioning to a group coaching call format? How did learning about the call structure and skillsets change your views on group coaching?