Before COVID, coaches often had conversations with clients about whether virtual/remote coaching was as good as in-person coaching. Many coaches are big proponents of in-person coaching and still like and value that type of coaching experience. Covid has changed everything though, and those conversations don’t have the same weight they once did. Virtual coaching has upsides and downsides.
The Upsides of Virtual Coaching
Virtual coaching can create an equally good (and sometimes better) experience as face-to-face coaching. Some of the upsides are the following:
- Greater flexibility of schedules (no commute time to meet face-to-face).
- The use of cameras and the ability to see/experience body language in a similar way that is experienced in a face-to-face session.
- The ability for people to work together who are located throughout the world instead of needing to be in the same geographic area.
- Files can be screen shared digitally (i.e. 360 reports) which can enhance the discussion/coaching experience.
The Downsides of Virtual Coaching
- Technology sometimes does not work (bandwidth issues, technology breakdowns, lack knowledge of platform, company limitations on use of platforms, etc.).
- It can be hard to find a dedicated, quiet, and uninterrupted space (that also meets technology needs).
- People can be easily distracted by other things that “show up” on their computer (email messages coming in, slack messages, text messages, etc.).
One type of virtual coaching that often is not discussed is the phone-only session. If you have a phone session (no cameras on either side), it can create a more focused coaching session because neither person is distracted by visual stimulation. You are solely focused on the conversation/words. This can create a rich coaching experience. I have heard people say that these sessions have been some of their best (as a client or coach) due to their singular nature.
There are downsides to a phone session as well. Both parties could be more susceptible to distractions (texts, incoming calls, etc.). Additionally, the lack of access to body language can limit effective and more transparent communication. An important metric to remember is that 93% of communication is nonverbal. It is valuable to see body language in concert with verbal language (content, tone, pace, etc.).
How to Find a Coach
Due to continued technological advancements, there are multiple ways to experience coaching. We have more choices and approaches available to us than ever before. Virtual coaching is an excellent way to connect with a coach that can allow for flexibility and confidentiality while still creating a high-quality experience.
Whatever kind of coach you’re looking for, you want to make sure that you find someone certified who you connect with. Don’t be afraid to ask any potential coaches how they feel about working over the phone or Zoom. Check out our “Questions to Ask Before You Hire an Executive Coach” guide for more information. You might also be interested in our coaching services.