Hey healthy lady!
Taking the leap to become a health coach is SO EXCITING… but it’s also downright scary!
It is common, normal, and completely natural for new health coaches to lack confidence in their ability to get great results in their coaching sessions.
Let's just think about this logically: How could you possibly be confident that you will get amazing results in a coaching session if you haven't yet done it?!? You can’t!
I watch SO many new health coaches sitting on the sidelines…
Waiting to feel confident before they start coaching…
Or maybe even investing another $5000 in a second or third coaching certification…
When in fact, it’s impossible to feel confident without actually getting in the game and getting started first!
Coaching is a skill. And therefore, just like riding a bike or cooking a souffle, the only way to feel confident is to do it again, and again, and again. Confidence only comes with practice and experience.
So in this ‘ultimate guide’ blog post I am going to walk you through EXACTLY what to do to deliver a kick-ass coaching session — so that you can get out there, get in the game, start practising, and start growing your coaching confidence…
THE FUNDAMENTALS OF COACHING CONFIDENCE
1. Understanding Your Role As A Health Coach
A lot of coaching confidence comes down to understanding the role of a health coach, and what your job is in the coach/client relationship.
A coach coaches. This distinction is important, because I often hear new health coaches worrying that they won't get the results a doctor might, or a nutritionist might. Or getting caught up worrying that they haven’t had the training a doctor has, a nutritionist has.
But a coach is meant to COACH. Not be the doctor, not give a diagnosis, not write a prescription, nor teach the science of nutrition, or create a specific meal plan.
And it's really important that we own this as health coaches. There's a reason that there's a gap in the system right now. This role and support is so needed and valuable. (So much so that Tony Robbins wrote an article on it, here)
Sure, a health coach doesn't replace a doctor… but a doctor will have only 15 minutes to prescribe or diagnose.
Who is there to coach them through lifestyle changes, hold their hand (or hold them accountable), encourage and support them, hold space for them through their difficult moments, and help them have their own breakthroughs?
This is what coaching is all about.
2. Knowing You Are Not Responsible For Your Client’s Results
One of the main reasons I see new health coaches holding themselves back is a feeling of responsibility for the client's results. Of course you will give your best as a coach — but you simply cannot control what a client chooses to do in her own time!
There is a level of ‘letting go of the attachment to the outcome’ that's really important as a coach.
To know that it's not your responsibility to give your client results — but it is your responsibility to show up during your coaching sessions, be deeply present, ask them strategic questions (more on this later!), guide them towards their ‘aha’ moments, provide accountability and support, and share resources and valuable teachings where appropriate.
At the end of the day, that is all you can do as a coach…
Create an environment of deep listening, support and encouragement. While knowing and accepting that you cannot control what your client does in their own time.
3) Being OK With Being A Beginner
You want to be a health coach — and coaching involves skills like active listening… asking strategic questions… getting comfortable with silence and pauses… mirroring your client… asking for permission… quietening your ego and letting go of needing to be right.
These are skills you need to practice, and ultimately master, THROUGH coaching and practice.
So I really encourage you to be okay with being a beginner coach!
You only learn through doing. And you're going to have to take that leap and get in the game at some stage if you want to be successful…so why not do it now and get started? It’s time to get in the game and start coaching — yes, even before you feel ready.
When you get in the game, you'll surprise yourself at how you're already enough. You really are enough to be a great coach for a potential client. (Especially with the tools I am giving you today…so keep reading.)
4) Knowing That You Don’t Have To Be Perfect To Help People
Something I see a lot of new health coaches struggle with is their own imperfections!
Newsflash: Clients don’t want perfect coaches. You don’t have to be living an extraordinary, exemplary, perfect life to be a coach. You don’t need to eat perfectly, never have down days, or never struggle with your own health challenges.
This is a myth that we coaches make up to STOP ourselves taking action!
The truth is: Clients don’t want perfect coaches.
They want people who are real, genuine, compassionate. Who will see them, who will believe in them, and support them with where they are right at that very moment.
If they feel intimidated by your perfection they won’t work with you anyway!
Remember: whatever it is you are struggling with — adrenal fatigue, eczema, relationship issues, whatever — doesn’t negate the fact that you can help people!!
And your level of empathy, compassion, understanding will actually be far greater because of what you are going through, or have gone through.
5) Practising Self-Coaching And/Or Getting Continued Mentorship
There are always worries as a new health coach — niggling fears that you're not good enough, or you don’t know enough, or perhaps you have limiting beliefs around money, your competitors, or how many clients there are.
The key here is taking responsibility for your mindset and for your business. Taking responsibility for your ability to overcome your limiting beliefs, and take the actions you need in order to move forwards in your work.
There are a few ways you can do this:
Exploring your own beliefs and mindsets continually — for example, through a journaling practice. This is going to help you build your confidence, grow your business, and get rid of the things/thoughts/beliefs that aren't serving you anymore.
Working with a mentor or a coach of your own. This looks like continuing to invest in yourself, continuing to be supported — ideally by someone who's a few steps ahead of you on the path that you are wanting to go in your life. Someone who can hold you to a higher place when you have those down days or doubts. Someone who sees your potential, someone who truly knows what's possible, and HOW to do it.
Reading self-development content — this is not only going to improve your own life, but will actually improve your own knowledge bank as a coach!
6) Ask Killer Questions (It’s the KEY to Powerful Coaching!)
This is something we’re going to focus on throughout the rest of this blog post — and to support you further, I've created a free resource called ‘100 Killer Coaching Questions’.
This is a list of my most POWERFUL coaching questions for you to use in your sessions.
The truth is: You don't need a zillion different coaching techniques, or years of experience under your belt to get started, if you start with just one “power tool” in your toolkit — the ability to ask killer coaching questions.
When you master the art of asking questions… and then listening… then asking another question… and then listening… You are stepping into a truly impactful position as a coach.
Trust that the magic of coaching will unfold when you stay present, when you pause and allow space for your client to respond, when you keep listening, and when you take them deeper.
They give you an answer and you ask a deeper question, and a deeper question…
Allow that process, the breakthroughs, the a-has to unfold. If you do this, you will feel a HUGE improvement in your coaching skills, the results you experience with your clients, and your coaching confidence.
Now you understand the foundations of coaching confidence, let’s dive into the coaching HOW-TO’S — so read on to discover how to structure your coaching session, and coach confidently and effectively.
PART 1: HOW TO PREPARE FOR A COACHING SESSION
I always teach business with a blended masculine/feminine approach. Because I believe we need a balance of both!
We’ve got the left brain — the structured, tangible, business pieces — and the right brain, which is the more feminine side. The self-care. This is about you showing up as a coach.
Both elements come into ALL parts of your business… including preparing for a coaching session.
Prepare your notes and have the practical things that are going to support you and be beneficial on the calls, especially as you’re getting to grips with your packages and session outlines. (An outline of your program, for example)
Over time, you're not going to need a lot of preparation time before a session, but at the beginning, I really encourage you to figure out —> Do I need a handout for today's session? Or do I need a handout perhaps that I promised the client on the last call?
Reviewing your client notes from the session before and checking "Oh, you know, I feel like it might actually be that she's going to ask me about sugar today, so I'll pull out my sugar notes in case I need them on the call."
(Yes, even if it wasn't on your agenda of your package outline — because as you go through your coaching session of course everything's going to become unique for the individual client.)
In the long term I want to reiterate that you won't have to do this very much, because with practice and experience, you're going to be much more organised! You're going to know exactly what you need for each session, if anything, and it won’t be important.
But at the beginning, just a little bit of time before a session to get prepared in practical terms with what you might need can be really helpful, and help you feel more confident. :)
Finally, make sure that you've scheduled enough time before a session in your diary to prepare, so you're not ever rushing to a coaching call — you want to be completely ready and professional on the dot when your client's coaching session starts.
Now, the feminine side is the energetic side, and this is something you’ll do before every session no matter how experienced you get!
You don’t want to turn up to a coaching session if you've just had a blazing argument with your husband; or right after a run, sweaty, huffing and puffing… (for example).
It's really important to take time before a session to become quiet. To let go of any distractions. To focus inwardly. To tap into your intuition or higher self. For some of you, that might be through prayer, meditation, or any centering exercise that you might have.
Just really let go and know that all that is important, all that your highest responsibility is on a coaching session, is for your to turn up present and really your cleanest clearest energy that you can ready to be there of service for your client.
Prepare yourself for the session with a simple routine that works for you — I encourage you to write that up if it feels good, and maybe put it next to your desk.
Now that you’ve prepared for Coaching Session, it’s time to Coach!
PART 2: HOW TO OPEN A COACHING SESSION
Let’s look at how to start your first session with a new client.
Obviously, you're not going to ask every single question I include here, but as I you scan these questions, take notice of the feel.
This is a very first session, and the intention is to ensure you're both on the same page. You're both committing to the same journey. It's getting clear again on any goals that the client might have and laying out any expectations.
Here are some questions that you can ask in your very first session:
- What must you accomplish in your coaching package?
- Would you like to focus on most in our time together?
- What are your key priorities at the moment?
- Is there anything you're already working on at the moment?
- What challenges are you struggling with at the moment?
- How can you word that goal more specifically and positively?
- How can you measure that goal? Or how will you know when you've met that goal?
- How can you break down that goal into bite-sized pieces?
- How do you want to feel after achieving these goals?
- Is there anything I as the coach need to know to ensure you have the best support?
- How will this goal you've got impact others in your life? (You can even go deeper on that question: Are there any positive impacts, or any negative potential impacts?)
- What's the key excuse you've had so far for not reaching this goal?
- Is there anything negative at all that could come if you do reach this goal?
- What do you think will be the toughest obstacle for you to overcome?
- How will other areas of your life be impacted when you reach this goal?
- Why are you passionate about this? Why is it a must? Why must you reach this goal?
- What are you willing to give up to make this your new reality?
- What are you most afraid of?
- Is this a true desire for you?
You will not, of course, ask all of them!! If you just ask 5 of those, that would be a whole coaching session. They are very powerful, open-ended prompts.
One other piece I would suggest here is to create internal ‘feelings-based’ goals — goals around energy, or self-love, or confidence — not just external goals around weight loss, for example.
This will take your client’s experience deeper, broader, and put less pressure on the ‘outcome’.
Starting a weekly/bi-weekly coaching session:
Starting a ‘regular’ session is obviously a little bit different.
The intention in that case is to check back in and find out how your client is going right now in this present moment. How has the week has been. Also checking in on if there was any homework or anything from last week that you need to kick off with.
I encourage you to start with a check in like this, with the questions that I'm about to share with you. In this first part it's really important to not dive straight into teaching.
(For example you don’t want to say "Sorry, today we're talking about water", when this client really needs to share with you how their sugar experiment went.)
At the start of a weekly session be present with your client and ask questions along these lines:
- How have you been since we've spoke?
- What's new and good for you this week?
- What actions have you taken?
- What are you most proud of this week?
- What did you celebrate this week?
- What actions did you not take?
- What has stopped you progressing in this area?
- Where are you self-sabotaging?
- What's working well for you right now?
- What's not working so well right now?
- What could you do to change this?
- What have you personally done to improve this situation?
- Is there anything that you could've chosen to do differently this week?
- Did anything surprise you this week?
- What did you say no to since we spoke?
- How are you feeling today in regards to meeting your goals?
- What would you like to focus on in today's session?
- How would you like to feel at the end of today's session?
- What would be your ideal outcome from today's session?
- Is there anything I as the coach need to know before we get started today?
Those are the kind of questions that you can ask and then active listening, going deeper. This potentially could be the first anywhere from 5 up to 30 minutes of your coaching session. Who knows? That could even be your whole coaching session depending on what the client needs.
This is a great way to start a weekly session in a professional mode. :)
PART 3: DURING A COACHING CALL
Now let’s look at the heart of a coaching session. This is the “guts” of it, I guess.
This, ideally, would be what you have planned out in your Purposeful Package Outline — this is the part of the session that will usually include some teaching.
(Of course, every single coaching session is going to end up being unique to your client. You do need to have some flexibility with this).
In the heart of a coaching session, you could ask your client questions along these lines:
- What do you think you should do first?
- What would be the most helpful thing you could do now?
- If money wasn't a restriction for you, what would you do?
- If time wasn't a restriction for you, what would you do?
- What would you do if you weren't answerable to anyone?
- What would someone else do in this situation?
- You could put in if they have a model, someone they look up to or a mentor,What would this person do in this situation?
- What do you think you're meant to do?
- If you're guaranteed to succeed, what would you do?
- What's the best use of your time at the moment?
- If you could only do one thing this week, what would it be?
- What can you do better than anyone else in this area?
- What books could you be reading to help you achieve your goals?
- If you saw someone else in your situation, what would you suggest they do?
- If you had more confidence, what would you be doing differently?
- If you weren't holding anything back, what would you be doing?
- How does that make you feel?
- What do you think about that?
- Where are you sabotaging yourself?
- What can you do to create the outcome you desire?
- What are you going to do about that?
Do you see how the questions in this heart of a coaching session are all about helping the client take personal responsibility?
Yes of course, you could suggest a book you think would be useful. But how powerful is it to first ask them, "Do you have a book that you know you should be reading, or could be reading?”
Trusting in their intuition and helping them to trust themselves is actually more powerful than you as a coach shoving ideas or answers at them that might not even be right for them.
I am not saying you can't suggest things. Not at all. And you will likely be teaching certain elements of health/wellbeing etc. here as well. That is a part of your coaching program.
Just have these list of questions up on your screen, and use your instinct to ask any that feel ‘right’ — so where possible, your client can come up with their own answers and have their own breakthroughs.
Coaching is a lot about inspiring self-actualisation. You don’t need all the answers, and your client is there to do the work too!
There are some other coaching tools out there as well. There's many!!
I suggest practicing a few. I definitely think you should start with the coaching questions that we're going through right now. In some ways, that's all you need.
Within the coaching questions, there are a few other skills to think of…
Active Listening is you being present. You're not playing on your phone. You're not in your head, thinking, "Oh my gosh. Am I going to answer this question for them? What am I going to teach them?"
You're literally being present and really listening to what they're saying For some people, they have probably never had that much attention. They can feel it. That can actually allow their own breakthrough just from being heard!! This is a beautiful thing you can do for your clients.
Using the Power of the Pause
As part of active listening, tap into the power of the pause. Practice getting more comfortable with silences and longer spaces between talking… don’t be in a hurry to respond every time a moment of quiet pops up… especially if your client is on the quieter side.
Sometimes people just need a little time for processing before they speak. Give them space.
Asking Open-Ended questions
This is what most of the questions in the Killer Coaching Questions sheet are. Open ended questions — which basically means it's not a question that they just say yes or no to, it's a question that gets them to explore the answer. It helps them go deeper.
One thing I will add is, avoid asking ‘WHY’ based questions. For example: ‘Why do you think that’s not working? Or Why didn’t you do that?’ WHY questions do not help clients reach their goals; instead, they spin someone out into stories and excuses.
Reflecting and mirror work
When you're listening and asking questions, keep reflecting back what you're hearing using their exact words.
For example you can say, "I see. You're feeling scared." If a client says to you "I'm really scared." They will use it in a long sentence, and they might not even notice they used that word. "You know, I'm really scared of trying to lose weight in case I fail…"
There's a big difference between you then saying, "I hear you, Sally. You're scared" and "I hear you Sally. You're terrified." It's not the same word. There's no match.
Reflection means reflecting back their exact words, reflecting back what they say, so that they can see themselves.
Your job as a coach in this moment is to be there as the mirror, to hold it up for them.
One thing to remember here: Don't rush in and use tools you don't understand yet. Master one thing at a time. I recommend beginning with the Killer Coaching Questions.
Practice these different coaching techniques, or at least become aware of them within what you're doing to see what works for you and your clients.
Like I said, there's many different techniques out there. If you just master the ones I've mentioned here, and if they're working for you, that may be all you'll ever need!
PART 3: HOW TO CLOSE A COACHING CALL
Now let’s talk how to wrap up a coaching session.
Many people don’t leave time for the coaching wrap-up, and just use their whole session for coaching. But the wrap-up, the last part of a session, is so important.
Recapping the session will help the client “integrate”.
They might not have even recognized the breakthroughs they've had if you don’t go over them! They might not have connected the dots on the new learnings they've had. Sometimes, especially if people are processing things, they don't even realise it’s happening!!
And beyond that, I like to use the wrap-up of a session to encourage my clients to write their own action steps on the call so that they take responsibility in sharing those me.
In a 60-minute session, aim stop at approximately the 45-50 minute mark for you to start the ‘close’. Don't wait to be on the nose at 60 minutes and then you start doing this. That's not having great boundaries in your coaching session. It's really important to finish on time both for you and for the client.
By allowing this time at the end, this 10-15 minutes (which can sound a lot but trust me, once you get into this, this can be the most powerful piece of your whole session) that will empower your client to take their own responsibility.
Plus it means that you as a coach won't be spending hours after a call - I say hours jokingly, but it can actually be that sometimes - for a client who has paid you to be on a call for one hour!
Some questions that you could use in closing a weekly session, during that final 10-15 minutes:
- How was today's session for you?
- What specifically made it so?
- How is your mind feeling?
- How is your body feeling?
- What were your major aha's today?
- What would you like to let go of now?
- What actually are you going to take this week?
- What are you going to do in the next 24 hours?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how motivated are you to achieving this goal?
- What will it take to turn that 6 into a 9 or a 10?
- Who do you need to ask for support from around this goal this week?
- Who do you need to speak to this week?
- How are you going to celebrate reaching this goal?
- Can you think of anything that might stop you from doing it?
- What are your top three priorities for this week?
- What's your number one focus?
- What are you going to say no to?
- What are you doing to say yes to?
- What can you schedule in your diary right now?
- Is there anything else that you need to feel complete from our coaching session today?
- So that's how you wrap-up your session!!
Make sure your next call is always scheduled in as well.
PART 4: WHAT TO DO AFTER A COACHING SESSION
After the call, take a couple of minutes to write up any basic notes — or type them if you're like me and have an online system (Satori) where you do that. And as soon as you get off the phone, while it's fresh, write down the action steps they’ve chosen to take.
(You do not need to spend hours after a call writing up notes or spoon-feeding your clients You don't need to make their action steps. You don't need to over-give, and say things like, "I'll create you a video on that" or "I'll find you recipes on that." That's simply not your responsibility.)
As a beginner, maybe there will be some extra things that you genuinely need or want to do after a session for the first few clients that you'll never have to do again.
Just be very aware of not coming from a place of, "I'm not good enough unless I give more." The coaching session itself is enough.
Many new health coaches go into that ‘over-giving after a session’ mode because they feel like maybe there wasn't enough value in the coaching alone.
All of the value is in the coaching. You are enough. Your coaching is enough.
You can follow-up with minimal material only if needed.
It is much more powerful to get the client to write their own notes. You just write a couple of basic notes so you know where to take off from again next week or next session.
Honestly, this is so key!!
I see so many new health coaches feeling burnt out, exhausted and resentful towards their work. And when I laser coach with them, I find out it's because they're spending hours taking extra responsibility and burden outside of the coaching session!
It's simply not needed.
I was terrified when I stopped over-delivering like this — because when I first got started in coaching I used to write up action steps for every client, send out to-do lists, and more.
I was SO scared that my clients would think they weren't getting enough value when I stopped doing all that — but honestly, the complete opposite happened! When I got my clients to start choosing and taking their own action steps, and their own notes, their results skyrocketed.
They took so much more personal responsibility, because they weren't expecting me to do it.
I really want to emphasize that this piece not only makes you more professional and impactful as a coach — but also allows you to take care of yourself as a coach as well.
When you’re first getting started as a coach, on top of the 10 minutes you’re making notes on your client for yourself…
Take 20 minutes or so to review YOUR coaching with these questions:
- What worked well?
- What can I give myself a pat on the back for?
- What didn’t work so well?
- What was a little wobbly that I can compassionately look at and improve?
The is key to learning and growing as a health coach!
So, ladies, there you have it.
Everything is here that you need to know.
You truly need to know NOTHING more than that.
Ask these open-ended ‘Killer Coaching Questions’ questions and listen for the answers. You’re there as a coach to ask questions and listen, with a little bit of teaching and guidance.
The questions, coaching tools and session structure I’ve just given you are your POWER TOOLS.
The foundations are there for you...
So get in the game, coach anyone and everyone you can, and your confidence is really going to lift.
And above all, trust that you have everything you need to be a great coach, and to deliver an impactful, encouraging, and deeply supportive coaching session.
Now go out there and get started!!
Love, Amanda xx
PS: If you ever feel fearful about coaching, read this blog post, it’s the perfect tonic for your nerves: Why you don’t need to be confident to start coaching >>
And make sure you download the 100 Killer Questions here: 100 Killer Coaching Questions >>