Gone are the days when the world believed that a coach had to meet in person with a client to make a difference. The last few years have brought significant changes in how we do business. And as a result, virtual coaching rose quickly in popularity.
Now almost every coach uses Zoom. Whether meeting with people locally or in other time zones, it’s just convenient.
- But how do you best use Zoom for coaching?
- How can you use its tools to improve rapport and engagement?
Well, we will answer these questions and more in this Zoom coaching guide. Whether you already use Zoom or are considering it, you will certainly gain something from this article.
So let’s jump right in.
What Is Zoom and Why Use It for Coaching?
Most people are familiar with Zoom as one of the more popular video conferencing software. It is used by businesses of all sizes as well as by individuals.
In addition to facilitating business meetings, these features make Zoom an excellent tool for coaching:
- Audio and video: Having audio and video makes it easy for users to see and hear the tone and emotion shared by others — ideal for coaching!
- Screen sharing: This feature lets you work on a document as you write goals and share a presentation to explain concepts.
- Interactive tools: Whiteboards, chat, hand raising, and emoticons facilitate communication and the sharing of ideas.
- Popularity: Practically everyone is familiar with this tool, making it less likely you’ll need to explain how to log on, use it, and log off.
- Security: Zoom upgraded many of its features to minimize security risks.
- Integration: Zoom connects to many other applications, like AI tools that transcribe and summarize your meetings and scheduling tools that automate your calendar.
Setting Up Zoom for Coaching
Having so many features means you can optimize Zoom for many different uses. Let’s look at some settings that can help you customize your account for coaching.
First up: account level. Zoom’s free account limits sessions to 40 minutes. Since most coaching sessions are longer, set up a paid account that best meets your needs. Track the expense since this is a business expense.
After you’ve set up your account, you’ll need to install Zoom on your computer or other device.
Install Zoom on Your System
There are multiple methods for accessing your Zoom account. You can access it from your phone, browser, or desktop. Zoom recommends using the desktop app or mobile app, and when compared side-by-side with all the platforms, the desktop software offers access to more features.
To install Zoom on your computer, go to Zoom’s Downloads page and select the Zoom Desktop client.
Based on your other programs, you may also want to check out these other downloads on the same page.
- Zoom Plugin for Microsoft Outlook
- Zoom Plugin for IBM Notes
- Zoom Extension for Browsers (Chrome and Firefox)
Remember to install the mobile app on your phone. While you might not use your phone for coaching calls, the account works well on mobile, and the app can help access notes, recordings, and connection details.
Configure Your Zoom Settings
While Zoom has a guide for setting up your Zoom account, we will cover some settings that make it perfect for coaching.
- Profile: When configuring your profile, use a picture and name that match your website and social media feeds. This step can assure your clients that they’ve hit the proper link.
- Waiting Room: Clients will wait in a waiting room until you admit them. You can customize your waiting room by changing the title and uploading a photo, video, or logo.
- Video: Video enhances coaching sessions because you can convey body language. For that reason, configure your settings to start meetings with the video on for both the host and participants.
Conduct a Test Call
If you’ve ever encountered issues with a videoconferencing call, you know the value of checking your equipment before a client call. You can use a test call to ensure everything works ahead of your appointment.
Testing is easy! And if everything’s working, it only takes a few minutes, making it a good practice to conduct regularly. However, there are times when testing is a higher priority.
Always be sure you test in these situations:
- Whenever you change, adjust, or reconnect your microphone, camera, speakers (or headphones), or lighting
- After the latest Zoom software update
- Before an important call or webinar
- Whenever you have reason to doubt your internet stability
To conduct a test call, you’ll want to go to https://zoom.us/test and then follow these steps:
- Go to audio settings to test your speaker.
- Use the test function to record from your mic and listen to the playback.
- Check that your camera has a good image and angle.
Check out our troubleshooting tips if you need to correct anything.
Easy Troubleshooting Tips
Most equipment issues are easy to fix.
- Equipment selection: If your camera, microphone, or speakers aren’t working correctly, ensure you have the right equipment selected. The up arrows on the mic and camera symbols in the lower-left corner let you check and change these settings.
- Check your connections: Unplug and reconnect your equipment to ensure a loose connection isn’t creating issues. Also, check that your cable is in good condition.
- Local controls: Ensure you’ve powered on your equipment, it’s unmuted, and the volume is at the right level.
Schedule a Coaching Session
When scheduling coaching sessions, sometimes you’ll set up a weekly time with the client, like every Wednesday at 2 p.m. With group coaching sessions, this is nearly always the case.
If you allow clients to schedule coaching sessions as needed, or if you want to create a VIP or introductory session, there are so many options:
- Use Zoom’s scheduling feature.
- Use a scheduling app like Acuity Scheduling.
- Use the scheduling function in your coaching platform, like Paperbell.
Whichever tool you choose, here are the features you want to look for:
- Availability: Clients should only see availability in the hours you’ve designated as coaching hours.
- Communication: The scheduling function communicates the session length, date and time (in the client’s time zone), cancellation and rescheduling links, and an invite link to the session.
- Payment: The scheduling link takes payment (for single-paid sessions).
- Reminders: Email is triggered to confirm and remind clients of the scheduled meeting.
- Calendar integration: There’s an option to add the session to a Google, Microsoft, or Apple calendar.
There’s a workaround if your scheduling tool doesn’t integrate with Zoom. Simply copy and paste your personal meeting link as the location, like a physical address. This option makes Zoom adaptable to nearly any scheduling software.
Tips to Elevate Your Zoom Coaching Sessions
It’s time to look at managing your sessions using the Zoom platform. These tips assume that you’re already familiar with the essential workings of Zoom. Still, if you need a refresher, Zoom has a Basic In-Meeting Navigation video that offers a tour of the controls.
Create an Optimal Coaching Environment
By creating a clean and professional environment for your coaching sessions, you help your clients focus on what’s important. Piles of laundry in the background, dogs barking, or kids running through may be an authentic glimpse into your real life. However, they can also distract from the purpose of your meeting.
An optimal coaching environment consists of two simple things: what clients see and what they hear. So let’s take a look at each.
- Room setup: Use a professional background to create an engaging and visually appealing coaching environment. Think about how the decor in your background contributes to the feelings you want to evoke, whether calm or excited.
- Virtual background: This option can be a great alternative. And unlike your actual office, a virtual background can travel with you. Canva has a lot of free templates for this.
- Lighting: Whether virtual or real, you’ll want good lighting. While professional lights are best, Julie Schiro shows how to get professional results using lights you probably already have.
- Camera placement: If your setup allows, place your camera in front of your screen, positioning it so the camera is close to the image of your client. This placement makes it appear you’re looking at them.
- Microphone: Audio quality matters even more than video. So use a good mic. And while Zoom is fantastic at minimizing external noises, it’s a good practice to try and dampen noises that would break your focus.
- Client distractions: Remind clients to reduce distractions so you’re both fully present.
Establish Rapport and Connection
The most significant benefit you offer your clients in one-to-one coaching is your presence.
Zoom is an excellent tool for facilitating your presence because it offers both audio and video. Clients will see you leaning in and listening. They will pick up on nonverbal cues that exhibit your compassion and engagement.
Here are some tips for establishing rapport and connection with your clients.
- Video: Always have your video on. Let your clients see that you are fully focused on them.
- Preparation: Come to each session prepared for each client. Read the previous notes, get a glass of water, shut your door, run a test call, and begin on time.
- Coaching tools: You likely have several tools in your coaching practice. You can have these tools ready in a folder to pull up in a screen share.
- Recordings: Recordings and AI transcription tools have made it unnecessary to take notes, and some tools, like Fathom, will even summarize the session. Plus, there are many inbuilt settings to ensure the best quality Zoom recordings without paid external tools.
- Follow-up: Consistent follow-up helps with rapport. Send an email or chat with a link to the recording, the transcript and summary, the tools you discussed, and anything you want them to accomplish before the next session.
Leverage Zoom’s Features for Coaching
Zoom features are one of the biggest reasons it’s more helpful for coaching than a call or a video call. Let’s look at some features that offer you a coaching advantage.
- Screen sharing: This is one of the most popular features on Zoom. You and your client can share screens to troubleshoot tech, work together on a document or website copy, or share a presentation or video.
- Whiteboards: If you’re the type of coach who loves to use a whiteboard or paper to diagram something, Zoom’s whiteboards are perfect. You can also create whiteboard templates using your tools or activities.
- Chat: This feature isn’t just for groups. You can use this in a one-on-one call to share links to resources or shared documents.
Let’s say you’re helping a client figure out the root cause of their current situation, and you want to use this example to show them how to use your root cause analysis tool.
- Use screen share to open a presentation and explain how to use this tool.
- Open your custom whiteboard template and work through this situation.
- Drop a link in the chat to your Google Drive, where they can get a blank copy of the tool to use the next time they want to conduct a root cause analysis.
Optimize Zoom Settings for Group Coaching
Up to this point, we’ve talked about using Zoom for one-on-one clients. Yet, Zoom is also incredibly good at managing groups and group coaching sessions.
If you mostly conduct group sessions, you’ll want to change your Zoom settings to facilitate order and group activities.
- Mute upon entry: For larger groups, change the participant’s setting to mute upon entry. This setting avoids unintended distractions like driving noises or people responding to their kids.
- Sound notification upon entry: Turning off the sound notification when people enter your Zoom room is best. This sound could create another distraction.
- Breakout room: Enabling breakout rooms can allow you to let your clients complete small group assignments and then come back to the entire group.
- Chat: Depending on your group, you may consider turning off your chat. Chat messages may facilitate engagement or be a distraction.
- Direct messages: You can turn on or off participant direct messaging. You can also turn on or off screenshots and emojis.
- Screen sharing: You can always manually give someone the ability to share their screen. However, if it’s something you do often, you can change the default so it’s always allowed.
- Nonverbal feedback: If you’re looking for feedback while you present, nonverbal feedback lets your clients tell you to slow down or that they need a bio break.
- Meeting reactions: Meeting reactions let them share emojis. Emojis are a great way to share the emotions they feel while muted.
So many features, right? And these features allow your group to have productive, orderly sessions.
Which of these features is best for your group sessions?
Engage and Facilitate Group Interactions
While group coaching helps you reach more clients and is an effective method for scaling, it requires the skill of classroom management. Let’s look at some practices that engage and facilitate group interactions.
- Agenda: Group sessions require planning and structure. Share the session agenda in advance so clients come with the right expectations.
- Sell your sessions: Let your clients know what’s in it for them and how this session will benefit them. Knowing what they can expect will encourage them to come and engage.
- Discovery: Create activities that help clients discover significant truths rather than depend on lectures. This helps them retain the lesson and integrate it into their lives.
- Summaries: If your group is small enough, let each client share what they learned and what they intend to do differently as a result.
- Hot seats: Conduct a few hot seat sessions. With larger groups, you can create a hot seat submission form and choose clients whose situations are likely to benefit everyone.
- Q&A: Clients’ situation-specific questions help you explain how to apply principles to their situations. It can also help you recognize when you need to be clearer.
- Virtual backgrounds: Offer virtual backgrounds that are themed to your coaching practice or awarded based on accomplishments.
While most group coaches are searching for ways that their clients can interact with each other and build relationships, there are situations when increased security and sensitivity are necessary.
When coaching on sensitive topics, like mental illness or domestic violence, some guidelines can increase the feeling of safety. Consider allowing clients to use made-up names and photos, turning their cameras off (or using filters), and turning off the participant list.
Once the Zoom coaching session ends, you’ll need to take a few steps to make your life easier. Of course, these steps also help foster the connection between you and your clients. Who doesn’t love a good win-win?!
- Follow-up email: Within 24 hours, send an email with the Zoom link to the session recording or transcript and any assignments and tools you mentioned. You might also include what they can expect in the next session. Use a standard template to make this easier.
- Discussion: Your best content will trigger discussions. Create a safe place to facilitate this discussion between sessions. You can use a chat tool, like Telegram; social media, like a Facebook group; or a dedicated option you own, like Upcoach or Circle.
- Ecosystem: A complete solution is more than coaching. It includes elements that support the changes clients make, including recognition, tools, resources, and community. When you create a community platform for your coaching clients, it reduces your load.
In this article, we talked a lot about using Zoom for coaching, including how to set it up, use it, and support it with other tools. And yet, there’s so much more than can be said!
One of the things we didn’t talk about is the accessibility settings for Zoom. Several options let you create an inclusive environment for all people, including closed captions and an ASL setting.
Your coaching can expand with Zoom!
- What are some of the features that you learned about?
- How can you use what you learned to create an even better coaching experience?
- What features do you hope to see in the future?
Comment below and let us know!