How To Structure Effective Coaching Conversations

Article by Nelli Gevorgyan / Updated at .18 Apr 2024
10 min read
How To Structure Effective Coaching Conversations

For the training and sessions to be efficient and bring results for the client, they must be structured and have a specific direction.    

The question of the day is How to Structure Effective Coaching Conversations, and we will answer it throughout this article. Besides, we will cover the concepts, the importance of coaching conversations, and generally, how to prepare for the session tips.

 

A coaching conversation differs from a typical conversation in which advice or help is given to resolve a problem. Instead, it is focused on guiding the client through discussion to increase their self-awareness and enable them to identify and develop their own solutions.

Coaching conversation implements questioning and the so-called "ask" approach. So, what you do as a coach throughout the conversation is - listen, ask questions, and help the client come up with their own solutions. 

 

Questions to ask during your sessions

It is essential to have the proper structure and ask practical questions for the session to be successful. The structure is vital for coaching conversations because it allows you to be effective and brings clients the desired results. Your session should lead towards something; the appropriately structured questions will save you much time.

  • Okay, okay, Ben, thank you so much, but can you give me some sample questions I can ask during coaching sessions?
  • Indeed, I can; here they are.    

Asking the right questions is as vital as having structured conversations that lead somewhere.  

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So here are some of the most potent questions that coaches simply must ask their clients:    

  • What do you want to achieve through this coaching program?
  • What makes you happy? 
  • If you achieve X goal, will that make you happy?
  • How will you know that you are happy? 
  • What does happiness or success feels like to you?
  • What aspects of your life would you like to improve or completely transform?
  • What are the biggest obstacles that you are facing?
  • Why do you think those challenges cannot be resolved?
  • How can you overcome the challenge if you separate people from the problem?     

Etc. There are various sets of questions for various goals of the conversation. Check 57 questions to ask in a coaching session article to find the best questions for your sessions. 

5 steps to structure effective coaching conversations

It is time to review the Top 5 Steps you need to complete to structure effective Coaching conversations. So, if you are ready, let’s dive into it. 

#1 Identify the Goal of the Conversation

Before starting the conversation, you should be prepared for it by knowing the primary goal. When you see how the goal is connected to the training program's final goal, you can structure the wholesome conversation effectively. Ensure they are explicitly vivid in the coaching contract template.

#2 Listen 

Effective coaching conversation’s main element is listening, do not judge, and do not jump to conclusions. Simply, listen to what the client has to say. 

#3 Ask the right questions

When you are clear about the goal of the conversation and have trained your listening skills enough, it is time to come up with the questions that will help you achieve the conversation's goal. E.g., maybe the aim of the conversation is to improve the client's self-awareness, your questions should be built around it.      

Or, if the goal is to identify the aspects of life that the client would like to improve, then the questions should be created and structured accordingly. Also, for that, you can implement the wheel of life exercise. 

#4 Be Flexible

No matter how structured everything is, it is almost impossible to follow the exact structure. Therefore, do not resist the coachee and let them talk even if the conversation expands. Just be aware of the techniques to bring the focus back on the main topic but never interrupt the client rudely, and be more flexible. 

#5 Implement Activities

Your session won't consist only of conversations, so do not forget to implement certain activities that will also increase self-awareness and contribute to deeper conversations. 

How to structure coaching conversations

5 great examples of a good coaching conversation

For the conversation to be effective, it should follow a defined objective. Thus, before starting a conversation, think about the outcomes you target to achieve. For example, you may want to know the client better or understand their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s review some objective-based examples. 

#1 Identifying the client's strengths and weaknesses

Knowing what the client is good at and their difficulties will help you offer more helpful solutions. For this, you can use open-ended questions as well as cross-questioning. Here is an example of such a conversation piece. 

  • Coach: Could you tell me about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
  • Client: I work in sales and enjoy meeting new people and building relationships. 
  • Coach: And what areas of your job do you find most challenging?
  • Client: Sometimes, I struggle with negotiating and closing deals. 
  • Coach: Well, it’s good to know where you excel and where you need to improve. What strengths do you think you can leverage to overcome that challenge? 
  • Client: I think my communication & psychology skills may come to help me when negotiating. 
  • Coach: That's a great insight. Let's work on developing your negotiation skills and see how other strengths can help to succeed.

#2 Identifying obstacles

Your job as a coach is also to understand why the client is where he is. If there is something keeping them from moving forward, you should be able to exchange ideas and come to a working solution. Here is a brief example of that. 

  • Coach: Is there anything special you want us to work on today? 
  • Client: There is, in fact. I'm trying to lose weight but can't seem to stick to a diet. 
  • Coach: I see. What do you think is keeping you from achieving your weight loss goal? Perhaps you couldn’t find a suitable diet?
  • Client: I consulted with my nutritionist, and we have set a diet I do enjoy. However, I may have difficulties with emotional eating and staying motivated. Besides, I can’t follow the timeline as I’m at meetings. 
  • Coach: Okay, those are common challenges. In your experience, what has worked in the past to help you overcome those obstacles? 
  • Client: Last month, I found an accountability partner, and setting small goals helped me stay on track. 
  • Coach: Great, it's good to know what has worked for you before. Now we can incorporate similar strategies into your weight loss plan. 
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#3 Galvanizing the client to take an action 

Sometimes there can be no obstacles or challenges. However, clients can still find it hard to commit to an action. In this case, they will need a little spark or a ray of motivation from you to keep going. 

  • Coach: I see you understand the importance of caring for your physical well-being. And I have noticed that you haven't been exercising. Is there a particular reason why?
  • Client: Well, I've just been so busy with work and other things I haven't got the time or energy.
  • Coach: I get it, but remember that taking care of yourself is essential for overall health. Starting with just 10 minutes a day, you can gradually increase your exercise time and feel the benefits. How about we work on a plan together?
  • Client: I guess that sounds good. What do you suggest?
  • Coach: Let's start by setting a realistic goal and schedule that works for you and then hold each other accountable. You got this, and I'm here to support you every step of the way.

#4 Fostering self-awareness 

Self-awareness is one of the keys to personal and professional growth. It helps to improve decision-making skills and set priorities. When the coachee is self-aware, they become better equipped to handle setbacks. If this is one of your goals, look at the following example. 

  • Coach: Can you tell me about a recent situation where you felt angry or frustrated?
  • Client: Sure, I remember being upset when my colleague took credit for my work during a meeting.
  • Coach: And how did you react at that moment? 
  • Client: I didn't say anything, and I couldn’t. However, I was nearly beside myself.
  • Coach: What thoughts were going through your mind at that time?
  • Client: I thought my colleague was being unfair and taking advantage of my work.
  • Coach: Do you think you could have reacted differently to the situation?
  • Client: Maybe I could have calmly addressed it with my colleague after the meeting.
  • Coach: Great. Remember, acknowledging your thoughts and feelings at the moment can help you respond more effectively. Let's discuss some strategies for communicating assertively in the future. 

#5 Developing particular skills  

One of the most common reasons clients seek the help of a coach is that they want to improve a certain skill. Whether it's a professional or personal skill, coaches can provide clients with the guidance and support they need to reach their desired level of proficiency. Let’s look at the example where the client desires to work on leadership skills. 

  • Coach: So what kind of leadership qualities would you like us to work on?
  • Client: Well there are many. But I guess I’d want to be better at delegation and decision-making.
  • Coach: Great. Let's start by identifying specific tasks or decisions that you struggle with. Then, we can work on strategies to delegate effectively and make confident decisions.
  • Client: Okay, I often feel like I have to do everything myself. How can I change that?
  • Coach: One way is to assess the strengths of your team members and delegate tasks accordingly. This not only helps you, but also develops their skills and builds their confidence.

 So you can start the conversations with either open-ended questions or try cross-questioning techniques depending on the objectives. 

You can move to the practical parts as you understand what the client needs or wants to work on. This includes developing strategies and methods to address the matter. 

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Useful coaching conversation template

To ensure you do not miss anything when structuring coaching conversations, you can use this simple template. Put down the answers to these questions, and you can have an example of a practical coaching conversation.  

  • Goal. You can start by defining your main goal and topic of the conversation. 

What do you want to achieve by the end of the conversation?

How can you make the best use of time?

Which are the client's needs and wants?

  • Current situation. Understand how things have been going with the client regarding your mutual goal.

What has worked so far?

What hasn’t worked? 

Is there something more to be done?

What motivates the client to keep trying? 

  • Growth possibilities. Discover which areas will need improvement. 

What keeps the client from achieving your mutual goal?

What possible challenges separate coachee from desired outcomes?

  • Options. Map out several solutions to improve the current situation. 

What are the possible strategies and options that can potentially work?

What haven’t you tried that might work? 

  • Key takeaways. Summarize the conversation by outlining key takeaways. 

Did the client understand what they needed to do next?

Which were some of the helpful insights from the conversation? 

Did you set a specific action plan? 

All these steps and questions can be further customized to meet the specific goal of your conversation. You can also leave space for additional notes, comments, or remarks on each section. 

Men structuring a plan for a coaching conversation

Make your coaching more effective with online

Did you know online coaching is officially more scalable than offline coaching? It eliminates location barriers and gives coaches access to international audiences.    

There is an incredible variety of platforms for online coaches. The best ones will offer you flexibility, affordability, and all-in-one automation.   

Uteach is potent all-in-one automation that comes in handy with tools such as website builder, course builder, coaching sessions, and integrations. It allows you to manage payments and marketing from one easy-to-use dashboard. Plus, you do not need any coding skills to build a website and customize it however you would like due to the visual drag & drop builder.    

So, if you want an online, scalable coaching business, Uteach is the right choice for you. 

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TL;DR
  ? Too Long; Didn't Read

A coaching conversation is a shift from a usual conversation where you would give advice or help to resolve a problem towards guidance through discussion to equip the client with the necessary awareness so that they can come up with a solution of their own.  


To achieve success in coaching conversations, actively listen, ask open-ended questions, provide feedback and encouragement, help set achievable goals, and evaluate progress.


The main strategies of a successful coaching conversation include identifying the goal of the session, listening to the interlocutor, asking the right questions and implementing related activities.