Coaches may be offering the range of virtual programs from teleclasses and teleseminars which usually have a heavier emphasis on content than coaching, to webinars which add a visual element, to pure group coaching programs.
Since starting my own business nine years ago, a bulk of my programs have been offered in the virtual format - from training programs such as the Group Coaching Essentials telseminar, to more "pure" group coaching programs such as the 90 Day BizSuccess group coaching program, to Virtual Retreat Days to design your own group programs. Personally I love the ability to be able to connect with, and bring together groups, from around the world, while at the same time not having to travel.
Virtual facilitation is a different approach and requires some changes in your programming. If you currently run a program in-person you may wish to consider these questions:
- What are the components I can keep as is?
- What modifications do I need to make?
- How might I need to change my questions? My activities?
- Which exercises may be moved to an assignment which participants complete between calls?
For any virtual programs, some things to keep in mind are:
* Visuals provide an important anchor point for people. Even if you are meeting by phone, how can you provide some visual anchors through worksheets, notebooks or photos sent out prior to the call.
* Engagement is key. Many professionals today suffer from "Death By Conference Call". How are you connecting with each participant, and connecting them with each other? Are you checking in along the way to see what insights they are having? Are you drawing out their voice?|
* Change the pace regularly - It can be very useful in virtual environments to mix things up every 5-10 minutes with a new question for reflection/conversation, a poll if you are online, or simply a pause. What do you have planned to change the pace?
* Pre-work can help to prime the conversation - In virtual programs I place emphasis not only on our phone based conversations but also the work and insights people are having before and after the call. Many activities we do in in-person environments can be adapted as field work opportunities before or after the call, so that the call time is used for discussion. What field work would benefit your group members?
Consider your most recent experience with phone or web based programs. What did you enjoy? What didn't you enjoy? What do you want to incorporate?
Do check out other posts I've written on virtual programming (Virtual Learning tag) here at the blog, and if you have a copy of Effective Group Coaching, please check out chapter 6. I also have a chapter dedicated to the topic of Virtual Learning in my new book - due out later this year.
Have a terrific week.
Jennifer Britton, PCC, CPCC
Author of Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010)
Host of the ICF CCE approved Group Coaching Essentials program - Next group starts tomorrow, Thurs Feb 28 at 10 am ET. Group calls Thurs 10-11:15 am ET: Feb 28, March 7, 21, 28 and April 4, 2013. 3 spots sill open. 6.75 CCEs.
Phone: (416)996-TEAM (8326)