Craig is our Rambutan coaching guru and he’s been coaching both online and face-to-face for many years. As online coaching becomes more mainstream this year, he shares his insights on how to make it a success.
Coaching that takes place in 2D (online) rather than 3D (physically) builds strong bonds, relationships and creates lasting impact. With 2D, you can still observe (most) body language, recognise the tone of voice, listen to what’s being and not being said, and be comfortable with the space. It works brilliantly and the coaching experience is hugely powerful and successful. Just like 3D coaching, the foundation is all about building a strong trusting relationship, where both the coach and coachee commit to the sessions.
For some people, 2D coaching in their home environment where they can close the door, helps them become more relaxed, as opposed to an office where there are other people walking past the office door chatting, office technology is noisy and the interruptions are endless. You can also hold 2D sessions outside sat in the garden, in a park etc.; it’s immensely flexible.
If you’re on a 2D coaching call and the technology breaks down, there are always other solutions, e.g. WhatsApp video call on your mobile rather than Teams/Zoom on your laptop. Plus, this gives you the opportunity to take a breather rather than staring at a screen non-stop for 2 hours. Discuss upfront what you’ll both do if technology goes a bit weird! Make it OK and relaxing.
If your coachee brings something new into the coaching session that hasn’t been discovered/discussed previously, then immediately, live if you can, share a fascinating short video that may help and then chat about it. Or instantly signpost new techniques that can help, drawing them via a shared whiteboard you can both see in the video call. It adds professionalism to the coaching.
If you need thinking time and space, 2D coaching sessions have an amazing ability to create a private environment by turning off the microphone, sound and camera for a few minutes. I’ve found this works phenomenally well and the results are amazing.
I choose my mindset to see 2D coaching as an opportunity, not a blocker. I focus on building beautiful relationships. If we view 2D as a limiter then that’s how we will approach it, however, if we view it as an advantage in life, then we choose to make it a success. It’s the norm to run 2D coaching sessions at the moment and actually stranger to consider meeting for a 3D socially-distanced one. I’ve coached about ten different people in 2D recently who I’ve had numerous virtual coffees with but I’ve never met in 3D.
For 2D coaching to be really effective there needs to be eye contact, observation of body language and a feeling of togetherness. ‘Audio only’ coaching works better when a strong relationship has already been built between the coach and coachee and you both understand the ‘rules of operation’.
One tip is to add in short breaks during the 2D coaching, to give both you and the coachee a break away from the ‘virtual world’. Five to ten minutes where possible is all that’s needed. This should apply to all virtual interactions and not just coaching! As a side note, Microsoft has a beautiful habit of booking 2D meetings in blocks of 30 and 60 minutes. To save ‘2D fatigue’, finish sessions a few minutes early to allow the coachee time to refresh before their next meeting.
My mindset is always about making a coachee feel relaxed and comfortable and that distractions which happen, e.g. dogs barking, Alexa going off, deliveries arriving, are genuinely ok. A recent 2D coaching session involved the coachee’s family showing me what they’d been baking!. If you make it acceptable, then it doesn’t become a distraction.
Remember to do whatever you can to make 2D coaching comfortable; be flexible on timings, put the time in for breaks and continually chat about how it’s feeling and what’s working. Don’t just say, ‘’I’ll give it a go’’ say, ‘‘I’ll give it everything’’ and you’ll surprise yourself as to how much you can achieve.
2D coaching has a positive impact on the environment with no travel and no need to get dressed up (though some clothes would be a bonus)!
With 2D coaching don’t believe you have to look at the camera all the time. We’re not on TV presenting to the nation. Be natural; break eye contact, glance around and be comfortable with silence, however intense it may seem on camera. You’re inviting people into your home and your world. It’s the most personal thing you can do.