Coaching can be an incredibly valuable asset on both an individual and a professional level – but what makes a great coaching session? If you said “the right coaching session template” you’d be 100% right!
Contrary to what some might believe, having a set template for your coaching sessions doesn’t mean that they end up being rigid or formulaic; in fact, having an established structure is perhaps the best way to ensure all topics get covered within the one session, without one aspect dominating the conversation. So if you’re looking for a free coaching plan template, take a look at our advice and tips below.
Why Is Structure Important For Coaching Sessions?
Firstly – why is structure so important when coaching? Whether you’re offering business coaching or a life coaching session, structure helps both you and your client understand what to expect from your sessions: it’s also an easy way for each of you to analyse your client’s progress and create solid goals for the future. Plus, it can even increase customer satisfaction with your programme: if your client knows that goal-setting and progress recap are both going to be covered in their upcoming coaching sessions, they’re more likely to work on their goals in their everyday life, and in turn get the most out of your mentoring and teaching.
How To Build A Coaching Plan: 5 Steps
So, how do you build an effective coaching session template? Here’s what we recommend:
Build a Rapport
Rather than diving into your session head first, it’s a good idea to take a moment to build a rapport with your client; this serves to relax both parties, and is a great foundational base for deeper learning and thinking later on during the session. You can achieve a rapport by performing mindfulness exercises, journaling, or even meditation, and this rapport-building element of the session should only need to take around 5-10 minutes.
If you offer courses online – for example, if you sell courses online with DigitalChalk’s LMS – and one of your existing clients is coming to you for a 1-on-1 session, don’t forget that it’s still important to build this rapport; while they may see you on a screen and feel an affinity with you, they’re technically still a stranger to you, so take time to get them in their comfort zone.
If you’re running a coaching session for a first-time client or a standalone client, you can skip this part, but for those with returning clients, it’s a good idea to take some time to recap on your previous session, most notably about any goals that might have been set the last time you spoke. This segment of the session is about building accountability in your client; it gives them something to work towards during their week, while also providing a space to discuss any problems or hurdles they might have encountered between their last session and now. Don’t forget that as a coach your job isn’t to berate your client if they haven’t met their goals: your job is to help them work around obstacles and guide them through any difficulties so that their goals can be met effectively.
For standalone clients or first time clients, you might want to get them to fill in an intake form to better understand their needs and goals.
Set Goals for the Session
Recapping is also a great foundation for what should be your next step, which is setting goals for the session. You may need to be a bit more flexible here, as your client might come to you with problems or hurdles that they’re experiencing, which you’ll need to make room for tackling within the session. Generally speaking, your goal setting should take into account any ongoing challenges in your client’s life – whether it be professional or personal setbacks, problems achieving established goals, or any type of derailment hindering their ongoing process – and establish a plan of action together on overcoming them. This includes creating a step-by-step process and measures for accountability in the next session, all with the broader goal in mind.
Both goal setting and solution-making overlap, but it’s important to fully cover problem-solving within your session, and set aside adequate time to do so. This is because while it is your job as a coach to come up with solutions, the effectiveness of these solutions requires the collaboration of your client. When offering solutions to their problems – or listening to your client’s solutions – you should ask questions such as:
What do you need in order to achieve this goal?
What’s currently stopping you from achieving this?
What is your final desired outcome?
What part of this process is most difficult for you?
What’s the one thing holding you back?
Getting answers to these questions is the easiest way to come up with solutions and steps that will actually work, rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all quick-fix for complex problems.
Review and Goal Set
At the end of the session, once you and your client have reviewed possible solutions and discussed at length the client’s own hurdles and obstacles, you then need to set out a plan of action and offer concrete steps so that your client can stick to it. This is also a good time to ask your client for some key takeaways from the session: what was helpful, what didn’t get enough time, what wasn’t helpful, and so on. In some cases, you may find that a client didn’t find the session as effective or helpful as they’d hoped: this is where you as the coach need to work on better recapping and rapport-building, so you can fully understand your client’s needs, problems, and desired plan of action.