6 Key Skills You Need for Virtual Group Coaching Conversations | by Jennifer Britton

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And How to Leverage them in the Online or Virtual Group Coaching Space

Virtual group coaching conversations are now common - whether it's leading group coaching by phone or video/online, hosting a training webinar or facilitating a virtual team development session.

Our core coaching competencies are an important foundation for both our virtual and in person conversations. And in this article we're going to explore 6 specific skills from the coaching framework which can help you in your virtual group coaching conversations.

Here are the 6 Key Skills You Need for Virtual Group Coaching Conversations

1) Questioning

Questions may be used to expand awareness, create focus or accelerate results. Questions form the backbone of any coaching conversation and in the virtual coaching world, the more robust a selection we have to choose from the better!

In virtual group coaching conversations, it can be harder to gauge how much time people need to reflect and ponder so when coaching groups virtually:

  • It's important that questions are focused and concise (ideally 4-5 words).
  • In the virtual world we sometimes ask multiple questions at any one time, so be sure to leave enough space for people to reflect and write things down.
  • It's also important to leave sufficient space for sharing and dialogue in the virtual space.

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2) Listening

Building the peer coaching skills in the areas of listening and questioning helps to build capacity in others. So when coaching groups virtually it can be useful to build the listening skills of the entire group.

Many group coaches incorporate a laser coaching approach where one group member may be in the coaching chair on a rotational basis. So, rather than just having team members sit back and relax, prime the other group members to listen to the conversation on multiple levels.

So, when doing virtual group coaching, ask individual group members to:

  1. Listen to the questions being asked, and note them down.
  2. Listen to the impact of the questions on the person being coached.
  3. Note the impact of the questions on themselves.

3) Accountability

One of the differentiators between a one-off virtual webinar or teleseminar, and ongoing group or team coaching is our deep focus on accountability.

The opportunity for group members to come back together call after call helps to not only strengthen the bonds between the individuals, but also increases the potential for accountability.

Things to think about to increase accountability when coaching groups virtually include:

  • Consider how people can partner up with their peers in between calls.
  • In larger groups (8-15 people) consider different ways to help people form connections that will lead to further accountability eg. creating a Facebook Group for the attendees to support each other.

You may also find this article helpful: How to Create an Active Facebook Group & Learning Community

People's Arms and devices showing them virtual group coaching4) Goal-Setting

In any virtual group coaching conversation, helping group members focus on and articulate goals not only helps to shape the conversation, but also boosts engagement by putting group members squarely in the driver's seat.

We know that when we help people connect early on with their "What's In It For Me" (WIIFM), they are much more engaged and usually more satisfied with their results. This not only ensures that the call is shaped by the group/team, but also serves as an antidote to the "Death by Conference Call" mindset.

Things to consider when virtual group coaching:

  • Goals create a platform for people to return back to throughout the program. Consider how group members will share their goals, goal achievement and goal success.
  • Be sure to help people connect with the bigger picture of goals so that it does not become a "checkbox" activity.

5) Build Trust and Intimacy

Without precious trust and connection, the conversation may stay at the surface level. So in a virtual group coaching conversation, trust, intimacy and connection are critical between the coach and individual group members.

In fact it's necessary for many people to feel connected with both the coach and other group members before they'll contribute in a virtual space.

Different ways to build trust and connection in the virtual space include:

  • Use streaming technologies (video conferencing like Skype, Zoom etc) wherever possible so people can both hear and see each other.
  • Spend time connecting the group at the start even if it's as simple as asking people to share verbally or by typing in their responses to questions like: "What brought them to this conversation?" or "What do they hope to get out of the conversation?"
  • Provide opportunities and exercises for people to breakout and work in smaller groups during calls.

6) Create Shared Expectations

The competency of creating shared expectations provides a more focused and engaged conversation space.

In virtual groups, visual and behavioural cues are less obvious. And group members may also come from different geographic and cultural contexts, so creating shared expectations is essential in the virtual group coaching world. These shared expectations help avoid unspoken assumptions and also create a common ground.

Areas you may wish to explore in the virtual group coaching conversation space are:

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the coach/facilitator and each group or team member?
  • What are the shared agreements around working together?
  • What are the expectations about showing up and being prepared, being active and engaged, and supporting each other?
  • What are expectations about pre-work before virtual calls in order to set the foundation for an engaging conversation?

Virtual Group Coaching Wrap-up

As you think about what you want to create in your next virtual group offering, what additions, changes or small tweaks can you make? What skills do you want to lead from?

Check out Jen's book Effective Virtual Conversations at www.effectivevirtualconversations.com or sign up here to get the latest updates and bonuses!

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Jennifer Britton

Contributing Author:

Jennifer Britton, MES, CHRP, CPT, PCC, is the author of seven books and has influenced a generation of coaches in the realms of team and group coaching. You may have read her writing, including Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010), the first book in the world to be published on the topic of group coaching; From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching; or her latest, Reconnecting Workspaces: Pathways to Thrive in the Virtual, Remote and Hybrid World (2021).

Since 2006, Jennifer's Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum programs have become known as the must-do training in the area of group coaching. Focused on providing coaches with best practices in designing, marketing and implementing group coaching, these programs have helped thousands of coaches launch their own group and team coaching programs in a wide variety of settings (public, corporate, non-profit). Together both courses are approved for 18.75 ICF CCEUs. These are the first two of 10 course pathways leading to certificates in Group and Team Coaching.

Potentials Realized's ICF-CCE programs are geared for aspiring group and team coaches, especially those wanting to work toward the New Advanced Credential in Team Coaching (ACTC) with the ICF.

Also check out our neuroscience course for group and team coaches (NLE-A), Team Coaching Essentials  and ACTIVATE Your Team and Group Coaching Superpowers. Prefer podcasts? Listen in to the Remote Pathways podcast, which explores the many different pathways to remote work, business and leadership.

Learn more about Jennifer & see all their articles here >>

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