#275: 3 Powerful Coaching Ideas To Try in Your Next Client Session

3 powerful coaching ideas to try in your next client session - Michelle smiling

Feel like your coaching sessions could be more powerful? Or maybe it’s terrifying to even think about working privately with a client – that’s normal too! In this week’s episode we’ll share 3 coaching ideas to give you confidence in your next client session. Join our free, live training this January, “Become a Powerful Coach & Get Results For Your Clients” at HealthCoachPower.com/powerful

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 3 Powerful Coaching Ideas To Try in Your Next Client Session

How much did you learn in your health coach certification program about coaching skills? This tends to vary from school to school, but one thing remains the same – coaching is a skill that requires practice!

This January, we’ll be diving into how to be a powerful, impactful coach during this free, live training. Join us!

For now, here are three ideas to practice in your next client session, from coaches who have been doing the work for over a decade.

Start open-ended

Instead of setting predefined agendas, or launching into what you want to cover in a session, try asking clients, “What do you want to focus on today?” (Or some variation of that question.) This allows clients to bring forth topics that are most relevant or pressing for them at that moment. 

By granting space for clients to express themselves freely, you can tailor sessions to address the client’s specific needs and concerns. Plus, a client who feels heard is more likely to stay engaged and see results.

OMG my camera isn’t working

Video calls have a lot of benefits when working with clients. At the same time, clients can feel scrutinized or uncomfortable while on camera.

Try occasionally offering an audio-only session, or even having an “accidental” tech glitch that doesn’t allow for video….

…and see what you notice about your client’s willingness to share openly. (And your comfort level, as the coach!)

Delegate for better results

Sometimes coaches spend hours writing up notes for clients and sending detailed instructions (that, let’s face it, the client may or may not even read). Instead, try empowering your client to write and share their own notes with YOU, reflecting on their three most significant insights or “aha” moments from the session. This approach encouraged clients to actively process and internalize the key takeaways, fostering deeper engagement and accountability.

Become a more powerful coach

No one is born knowing instinctively how to coach – it’s a skill that can be taught and learned. And most of all, you’ve got to practice. If you want to make your sessions more effective and build confidence in your skills, join us for our free, live training happening January 2024: Become a Powerful Coach and Get Results for Your Clients.


Full transcript:

Michelle:
Hello there, health coaches! Thank you so much for tuning in today. Katie and I are here to give you some ideas for your next client session. Katie, thank you so much for joining me.

Katie:
So great to be here, Michelle, I always love having a good conversation with you.

Michelle:
I have to apologize to you and to everybody listening, I have some kind of wicked cold virus thing going on, so if I have to sneeze, I'm going to try to mute myself. It's just like that kind of day, but I got the tissues right here and ready to rock and roll, so apologies in advance for that. But you know what? You got to just keep showing up. I was wondering, actually, Katie, I was going to ask you, did you ever have to do a client session when you were under the weather or even not sick, but something going on in your life that wasn't ideal?

Katie:
Oh, I mean with as many clients as I think I've dealt with, absolutely a hundred percent. I remember I took my dog for a walk and I had a client session right after that and this off-leash dog bit me during the walk just ran around the corner. It launched itself, took a huge chunk out of my thigh and I'm like, can I get your phone number? I have to go to work right now. So they were complaining about things and I'm like, yes, I can totally relate. I just got bit by a dog and she was very understanding. She's like, let's reschedule, let's reschedule. But yes, that was probably the most, the biggest that I've ever had had to deal with. What about you?

Michelle:
That's pretty big. I mean, I've definitely been sick. It's so nice because when you're coaching, especially one of the tips we're going to share today, you can do it from bed. I've done so many coaching sessions like lying on my couch or if I'm not feeling perfect, okay, so it's kind of a cool job in that way that it doesn't demand you to show up somewhere dressed head to toe, and be ready to interact with a whole lot of people at once. But there is this idea of continuing to show up. So it is pretty rare that I've had to cancel, and I figured today's podcast episode was similar to that. So we're here and we're going to talk about coaching as a skill because all skills need to be learned and they need to be practiced. So even though I started health coaching 14 years ago, I want to assure all of you listening that my earliest sessions with my very first clients were very, very unskilled.

I wasn't just born knowing how to do this stuff. Of course they were going to be kind of awkward. I was new to health coaching and it just took years, literally years before I felt like 100% comfortable sitting down to coach someone. So today we want to help you get there just a teensy bit faster than that. So we have three quick tips for your next client session. I'm also excited to announce excited, a free live brand new training coming up later this month. It's called Become a Powerful Coach and Get Results for Your Clients. Now listen, this is for you. If Imposter syndrome has been standing in your way of working with clients or if you are seeing clients but you feel like your sessions could be more effective, you can sign up for that now. It's completely free at healthcoachpower.com/powerful. Again, this is a brand new free training.

It's to help you develop powerful coaching skills. You can go to healthcoachpower.com/powerful to sign up. I'm going to drop that over here in our Facebook area. Hello to Ashley and Erin and Linda and everybody else who is joining us live. Before we dive into today's topic, this episode is brought to you by Practice Better, which is the practice management software that I love and recommend for all our health coaches. I mean, they are literally built for exactly our kind of business, like a nutrition and wellness business. That's what Practice Better is all about. They handle all your billing, all your scheduling, all your forms, all your online programs and so much more. They even have a brand new AI note taker. So you don't have to write up client notes anymore. So if all the admin tasks in your practice have been dragging you down, go sign up for a free trial and save 30% off your first three months when you use this link healthcoachpower.com/pb that stands for Practice Better.

All right, Katie. So when we're talking about this episode, what are three things that we like to make sure that we throw in there when we're coaching or tricks? There's so much that goes into coaching skills. It's not just a bunch of hacks, but we do have a couple hacks here and there to share. So the first one that came to mind for me is, and this is it's not complex, and maybe some of you are already doing this, but are you doing it all the time? I love starting client sessions by asking the client, Hey, what do you want to talk about today? Just super casual like that versus, okay, well it's session three and today we're going to be talking about your macros. Or today I want to check in on everything that you said you were going to do last week. Bump going through the list.

This is just an open-ended question that allows the client to tell you what's going on for them. And sometimes I've had really surprising answers to that question. Things that I never would've dreamed the client was going to say, but hey, I haven't talked to someone in a week or two. Things have been happening in their life. So this is how you customize a coaching program. Rather than it just being like, here's what I want to say today. You're asking what do they want to talk about? And how often does somebody even ask you that question? How do you usually phrase it in your coaching business, Katie?

Katie:
I don't usually say, what do you want to talk about today? I ask, how are things going with you? What's new? It depends on the specific person. Some really, I'll call them type A clients. They don't like the vagueness. They really want me to ask them a specific question. So for them I would say, tell me what you want to talk about this week. I like the word focus. How do you want to focus today's session? Where would you like the focus to be? And I think that sometimes it can be challenging as a coach to do that because it's kind of opening an unwritten book. If you say, okay, so we're going to talk about your macros because last week you wanted to do this, you know what to expect. But if you're just opening that door and asking them, you don't know what they're going to say.

You don't know if they're going to say, I just got bit by a dog. You have no idea what's going to come out of their mouth. So when you're a new health coach and you're trying to keep it all in your head and know what comes next, it can be a little unnerving, I think, to be that open, but it really will pay off for you. And it's not as hard as it sounds like it might be. Sure you're going to get an unexpected answer every once in a while, but that's a conversation. How often are you talking with a friend or your parents and they come out with something that you don't expect? You deal with it. We're human, right? It's conversation.

Michelle:
That's right. And coaching is a human relationship. It's not just the sharing of information or the giving of directions. And that's what I think really makes it human. It also solves the problem of am I hitting on the things that are most meaningful to my client? Does the client even know what is meaningful for them? Like I said, how often does someone just ask you, Hey, what do you want to talk about today? Hey, what's on your mind? What would be important for you today? Nobody asks that. So the fact that you're willing to give someone hold space for them in that way is more powerful than counting any macros. I'm going to assure you right now.

Katie:
A hundred percent agree. Absolutely. Michelle. Yes.

Michelle:
So if you're watching live, tell us how often do you start a session open-ended just allowing the universe to bring to the call with your client. Whatever is going to come up like 50% of the time, 100% of the time, 0% of the time. I got my eyes over here on the comments so I can see where everybody is at. What I have noticed is that through the years, we have more and more and more and more and more health coaching schools popping up. The trainings are different everywhere. How they teach us to coach or sometimes don't teach us to coach really varies. So some of you may have learned this in school and others are like, wow, I never thought of that before, Michelle. Thank you. So I always like to get the temperature of where everybody's at. And do you feel like your coaching program prepared you to actually do the work?

Not just to know some facts about nutrition. Ellen saying, I used to always start with, how can I most help you today and what's the one thing we need to accomplish today? Oh, I like that. That helps them get real specific. And to your point, Katie, about type A clients, which all my clients were type A clients, they would typically have a list, especially after the first time I asked them, they knew that the next week I was going to ask them and they would be like, well, the first thing I want to talk about today is this. But I love that it helped them frame their thoughts up and be in the session even before we were in the session, which I think helps create a more valuable experience.

Katie:
Yes, absolutely.

Michelle:
Talk a little bit more about that.

Katie:
Oh, I was going to say, I'm curious what Ellen does now. She said, I used to start with... Ellen, do you do something different now?

Michelle:
That's a good question. So that's number one. You guys, in your next session, leave it open-ended. Sometimes I would either do a little like, what is the universe going to give me today and just let the energy come. It sounds extremely woo, but you can't, and I'm saying this as a very type A person, you can't control the flow of a client session. So the more you can prepare yourself to just be open to what comes up, the better it's going to go. Alright, so now we're going into the session, and Katie, you have a really smart trick that you call, oh my God, my camera is broken. Tell us about that.

Katie:
Wow. Especially now these days, everyone wants to do a Zoom. They're expecting a zoom, they're expecting to be on camera. And sometimes, and I'm staring at you now, Michelle, I don't know if you can feel it right. I'm looking right at your picture and I know that you can see me. And sometimes clients, when they know you can see them, they put up this wall, they can't really put up a physical wall. So they kind of say, oh yeah, and they agree with you, and they say everything that they think you want them to say and then they go and do none of it because they don't really want to be seen. They're not open to cracking that shell and letting the things out that are going to help them move forward. So if I have clients that want to be on video, we'll do that.

And then every once in a while my camera will be not working. You know how technology is, we're just going to do this one without the video, or, oh, I didn't clean my house today. There's people painting, right? There's always some good reason that I can come up with to turn off the camera. And sometimes I'll just say to them, if we've worked together for a while, today, we're just not going to be on camera and without fail, those are the most powerful coaching sessions. Everything comes out. They're not being stared down by me. And if you don't look at someone, then they think you're distracted. You're taking notes, right? You don't want that. So that's why turning off the camera every once in a while after you've gotten to know them and after they've gotten to see you and after they know how invested you are in their health can really, really be a turn to someone's health coaching experience.

Michelle:
This is such a wild change from when I started coaching, because of course we did not even have Zoom 14 years ago. So seeing a client was a non option. Everything was done by phone, and I guess it's sort of teach an old dog new tricks or whatever, but I never did client sessions over Zoom. I always preferred the phone for so many reasons, but like you said, I felt the client could be more themselves. They don't feel so scrutinized or not worried about like, oh, is my hair okay or whatever. And also I could be that way. I felt like I was more natural. I was able to just say what I thought. I was able to let the energy of the universe flow through more easily when I wasn't staring at the screen either. So I know coaches are always really surprised to hear that, but I highly recommend coaching audio only, and I like what you suggest, Katie, where sure do video sometimes and sometimes try it without, this is the whole idea of today's episode.

Try something different. Mix it up, right? This is the only way that you're going to see what works for you. And there are benefits of course to being on camera because coaches will always say, well, what about body language? I don't really think anybody's body language is that natural when they're on Zoom, nor can you see very much of it. But one time I did have a client who I had always been on the phone with, we did a video session and I was like, oh my, I had no idea this woman's hair was thinning this dramatically. Now I could see it. She hadn't really mentioned it before. So yes, to the upside of using video, and yes, to the upside of sometimes not using video, that's an important thing for me to say, Hey, by the way, tell me about your hair.

Katie:
Exactly. I had a client like that as well. I was working for a weight loss program, and she came on camera and she looked like she weighed 85 pounds, and I was very confused. I was like, we're going to talk about this. And I said, client, tell me a little bit about your goals. Are you looking to lose weight? And she was like, oh, no, no. Which was good to get that out of the way, but without the visual, I might not have known that. Later on, we did a lot of calls without the video. We had that little piece of the puzzle and she made a lot of progress towards gaining weight and being healthier. So that was fantastic.

Michelle:
Oh wow. That was unexpected, right? You're doing a weight loss program and someone shows up. Okay, glad you had the opportunity to ask that question. Yes. That's great. So that sounds like a really good, the excuse of, oh, my camera's not working. We all know that there's days that Zoom is just not doing the right thing, the audio piece isn't working, whatever. It sounds so easy. So just try that you guys, oh my God, my camera isn't working. Why don't we just proceed without video today? Turn yours off too. And they're going to go because nobody really likes to be on camera all day. I know I don't. Ellen is saying over here, I am so much better as a coach on the phone. It's my best listening skills to catch intonations and inflections, and they're not distracted by my environment and vice versa. Yes, exactly. I'm sure we could speak to the whole idea of not having too distracting of an environment behind you in the first place, but even small things, just tiny things that you catch or you start looking at or somebody's necklace is crooked and it is, it can just be distracting. So what a nice way to mix up. Okay, the last idea we have for you today is something that would happen after, or what usually happens after a session. Katie, you love this idea of not sending a summary of the session to the client. Why do you love that?

Katie:
Well, it's not because I'm lazy, Michelle, although one less thing in our day is always a plus. I was finding that I was sending summaries to clients and then the next week I would ask what they want to talk about. And it was never anything on the previous summary. So I was wondering what I think is important, is it what they think are important? So that's kind of how this idea started. So I started asking my clients, I said, I'm not going to send you summary today. I would like you to send me your three aha moments or your three biggest insights from this call today. What was most important to you? And that was so helpful because sometimes we've had clients like this, they're there with you for the 30 minutes or the 60 minutes, and then they don't think about anything you've said until the next time you meet.

And then three months into it, they're like, nothing's changed. Well, this forces them to be so engaged that they're going to have something to tell me later on, and it makes them think about it. And whenever you have a thought and you turn it into a sentence and you type it or write it down, those things become more real. So I'm prolonging their coaching session, giving them a lot more of what they're paying for because they're almost forced to come up with what's important to them, and then they share it with me. And sometimes it's exactly the same, and sometimes it's so far off that it's a great thing for me to know going into the next session. If we spend a minute and a half talking about the whipped cream and Starbucks and we spend two hours talking about movement, or not two hours, but the rest of the session talking about movement and what they talk about is the whipped cream at Starbucks. Not that we wasted time, but this is definitely an area that I did think was something they were focused on, but they obviously are.

Michelle:
Right. So what was most impactful to them?

Katie:
Yes.

Michelle:
I love that. And having them reflect on it themselves. We know that just helps cement things in somebody's brain when you have to think about it again, you have to write it up like you said. So I think for both parties, that is so helpful. Not to mention the sometimes hours that I see you guys spending writing up these summaries for your clients. Now, this isn't to say that you should never send your client anything. You want to send them a link to that thing you mentioned or whatever. Yeah, absolutely. But sending, you could take notes on your end, but how many times have coaches then sat down for an hour and a half to translate this page of scribbled notes into something worthy of sending their client? And then the client probably doesn't even read it. Like you said, it's how effective is that really?

Katie:
Yeah, not very effective.

Michelle:
Take it from some experienced coaches, not very effective, always more empowering to have your client do things for themselves in general, right?

Katie:
Yes, a hundred percent.

Michelle:
Yes. I love that Linda says this is a great tip to ask them what has been most impactful for them in the session? Good, Linda, you got to try that next time. Even if you just do it once, if you've been working with a client for a while, you could say, Hey, we're going to do something a little bit different this time. I want you. And do you ever give them a deadline for that key? Send me back by tomorrow. Or how specific do you get about what they should do?

Katie:
Yeah, I usually say tomorrow. And if I don't hear from them, then I just follow up and I ask them. I don't push any more than that, and sometimes they never send things to me, but that is something to be aware of. Either they're not wanting to think about the session after the fact, and maybe they're not really as ready for change as they thought they were. Or at the end when they say, Hey, nothing's changed, why didn't you send me this, that, and the other thing? And then I can come back and say, well, I noticed that you really did not much of anything that I asked you to do, including the most important thing sending the summary. So I continue to ask even if they don't send for the next session, but I only usually give them one follow-up just because it's telling people's actions are far more telling than what they say they're going to do. And chasing someone to do something never winds up. Well, right. Standing over my kids to clean the bathroom does not result in a clean bathroom.

Michelle:
Yeah, no kidding. Right? And Sarah's asking about clients writing down action steps or goals. I would always have my clients write that down for themselves as well, because again, I'm not your babysitter. I'm not your mother. You have to write down the things that are important for you and having them read it back to you at the end of the session. Okay, so what are you going to work on over the next week? I think far more impactful than figuring it out for them.

Katie:
Right? Our goal is to empower them and if we're constantly almost spoonfeeding them, all the little things, we're kind of cutting them off the knees and not allowing them to take action themselves.

Michelle:
Agreed. So hopefully, and thank you so much for those of you that joined us live today. Hopefully that gives you some things to play with in your next client session. Again, coaching takes practice. That's it. Some of these are going to work beautifully for you right away, others may not, but keep trying. Try new things. Try it with a different client because it helps you and it helps your clients grow. Now, of course, it's every coach's worst nightmare when sessions seem to be going south. When we have challenging clients, we have clients who just aren't seeing results. It's like, what do you do? Well, I'll tell you what, you sign up for our free training later this month. It's called Become a Powerful Coach and Get Results for Your Clients. And again, the link to sign up is healthcoachpower.com/powerful. I hope to see you all there, and this episode is brought to you by That Clean Life. If you're spending countless hours creating recipes, recipe books, helping clients meal plan like I used to do back in the day, you are going to love this for a limited time. You can save 20% off your first four months when you join at healthcoachpower.com/tcl. That stands for That Clean Life. Give it a try for a couple months and see for yourself. Take care everybody. We'll see you next week.