Best Online Group Coaching Practices: Dos and Don’ts
December 20, 2021 by Fergie Verantianes
Online coaching became a huge trend in the coaching industry in the past few years and is predicted to keep rising in the future. Joining a coaching program virtuallyis now a preferred option as it allows people to work on their goals and personal growth with the flexibility of space. The virtual option to coachingcertainly impacts the growth of group coaching, as it is become significantly easier to organize the coaching sessions in a group with that much flexibility allowed.
Even though the technology has supported the advancement of this virtual or online coaching model, online group coaching still has its challenges. From the online noise and competition that people now get to have online to the overly complicated journey that your clients need to go through to get to a session with you.
From our study cases of numerous coaches running online group coaching programshere at Uloo, we are sharing with you the best online group coaching practices that will help you to structure your group coaching program better, even when you are running it online. Simply follow the dos and watch out for the don’ts.
Do: Define Your Niche & Target Market
The coaching industry has expanded significantly thanks to technology. By leveraging on coach listings and directories, coaches like you can now start their business online easily. Based on ICF research of the market, the virtual space has helped boost the industry size from $15 billion in 2019 to be estimated at $20 billion by 2022, with an outstanding 6.7% of average annual growth rate.
What does this mean for you? This means that your competitive landscape has grown and you need to stand out in a crowded market. From what we learn in our study cases is that being general in your offer will not attract any potential clients. Why? Because people have specific problems and goals they want to work on. It means that you need to niche down your coaching expertise to a specific area and define your target market. The right structure to work on this is to know your passion in coaching and who are you most relatable with for you to help. For example, you are passionate about eco-friendly and sustainable living, you identify yourself as a female parent, and you have the tools to help parents transform their families to live more eco-friendly and sustainably. There you go, that would be your niche and target market.
The Don’t: Don’t be a trend follower when it comes to your coaching content. You can not stand out if you keep getting affected and change your coaching program based on what’s your competitors are doing. This will not help your ideal clients to find you.
Do: Set A Clear Offer
Competing in the virtual space, you need to keep in mind that clear information is key. Your potential clients are presented with an overwhelming amount of choices and the way that they shift through is based on the information they see.
Your group coaching programs need to be clear and aligned with what people are looking for. An important fact to note: people are not searching to buy “coaching”, they are not looking to be coached. Coaching is a method that they are willing to take, but what your potential clients want ultimately is the result.
The tip to take here is to set the expectation right from the start based on the result that you will deliver. To name a few examples of concrete and clear offers: Land your dream job with this 8-weeks career coaching program; Achieve a balanced work and life through my value-alignment coaching program; 5 Days Becoming More Plant-Based.
Similar to other services offered online, you need to list and lay out the path to success or your coaching framework, in a way that these potential clients understand what they are committing to. Additionally, you also need to be clear with your group coaching program price structure. Let people know the value of your coaching. This will help underline your credibility as a coach as well.
The Don’t: Don’t try to intrigue online visitors with a vague offer and unrealistic expectations. Certainly, this kind of practice will backfire with unsatisfied clients.
Do: Be Prepared
Technology can be a supporting friend, but it can also be your worst nightmare when things just don’t work. Running your group coaching fully online on various digital platforms and tools presents a lot of challenges. From the internet connection that doesn’t work, you need special access to give to your clients to enter a session, the audio is not clear, and many more.
The solution is simple, be prepared. Try all the digital tools that you are using, play different scenarios with the tools as if you are a client, and check for loopholes or things that are not working well. Fix them before you are actually running with a client. Do a test run with someone from your team or fellow coaches to make sure that all the technology you are using to support the group coaching program is running smoothly. By trying and testing, you can actually have a comprehensive knowledge of the tools and platforms, which will be handy as Plan B, and Plan C, even Plan D.
The Don’t: Never do a test run with clients. This may come across as you are not professional, while in coaching, it is important that the clients trust you. In case that a technology mishap happens, which inevitably can happen, don’t be panic. Stay calm and redirect your clients to follow another solution that you have planned.
Do: Build An Easy-To-Follow Path
As discussed in the point above, to support your group coaching program, you might be using multiple digital tools and virtual platforms. While structuring these logistics, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your clients. What kind of online path do they need to follow from finding your group coaching offer to actually joining the group coaching program?
The best practice here is to build an easy-to-follow path for a client to access your group coaching program. You might want them to leave their email on your website, this will trigger the funnel to the first email with the complete registration form, then they have to open another platform to make the payment, then again another platform to book the session, and they will get an email with the confirmation plus link to the first session. In reality, that means a lot of tabs, a lot of clicks, a lot of typing for your client to reach you and finally join the group coaching program.
Ideally, you can use one single platform where you get to centralize the logistics and administration part of joining your group coaching program. With a coaching platform like Uloo, you get to put together the registration, payment, notification, and your own group coaching space, all in one place. Your coaching client only needs to download the app and join your group coaching program directly in the app.
The Don’t: Don’t overcomplicate your client journey. You might want to make the process and the structure more advanced with multiple tools and platforms. But, on your client's side, they might feel frustrated and drop out in the middle of the journey. Keep it simple and centralized as much as possible.
Do: Create A Comfortable Space
The obvious challenge we all face when moving any activities online is the unnatural ways of doing things, which are uncomfortable. A simple example is when clients step into the group coaching live session. If it were an in-person session, it will be natural to greet them, because we see each other faces, and we can read the room easily. While online, it is not as natural and easy. Some might turn off their cameras, they don’t know if it’s the right time to introduce themselves, or to talk at all.
Your role as a coach here is much more crucial in a way that you need to be the one who facilitates your group members to feel welcome and to create a safe space where everyone can be open and comfortable. Do show your authentic self, acknowledge and normalize these unnatural barriers, and build a comfortable space around the room.
Try to connect with your group members, talk to each of them, give them the space to introduce themselves, and build positive vibes between the group members. Invite them to share their opinions and express themselves, then allow other members to react and give something to say. This will make the group feel better to be with each other and set the right tone to move forward, even outside the live group sessions, maybe in a chat or a forum where you continue the communication during the group coaching program.
The Don’t: Don’t expect the group to bond by themselves. Even in the case of team coaching, in which the group members already know each other, you still need to put yourself in the center and drive the vibe that can support your group coaching direction. Engage with your group often and make sure that everyone is involved in a way that they can actually benefit from being in the group.
Those are the best practices that we have gathered and learned from running various group coaching programs with our Uloo coaches. We encourage you to follow the dos and be aware of the don’ts to make sure that you can run successful group coaching programseven online in the virtual space.