There’s a reason so much of human learning and development happens in groups. Not only is it more feasible and economical to do these things in groups, it also creates a built-in support network, which can facilitate even greater progress.
This applies to things like school, training, therapy and support groups, and even coaching. So how can you get started with online group coaching today?
What is Online Group Coaching?
Group coaching is the application of a coaching program to multiple clients at one time, with sessions, discussion, and support delivered via a group format.
As technology has advanced, group coaching is most often performed online, whether wholly or in part. With videoconferencing software, convenient messaging systems, and platforms for group work, it’s never been easier to deliver group coaching to your clients.
How Does Online Group Coaching Work?
The way group coaching works will differ for every coach and every group since coaching engagements are largely shaped based on the coach’s program and the client’s needs.
However, there are some basic components of online group coaching:
- The coaching sessions are delivered to a group of two or more clients rather than individually.
- The coaching sessions are conducted online, via a group forum, teleconferencing, and/or videoconferencing.
- Any other coaching interaction, activities, or exercises may be conducted online as well.
The Model and Framework Explained
Since each coach will have their own unique coaching program to serve their clients’ unique needs, it’s hard to identify a one-size-fits-all model for online group coaching.
The style of the coach, the needs of the clients, and the context will determine what model works best in any given coaching situation; however, there is a sort of “menu” of activities that coaches can choose from to build their group coaching framework.
These activities include:
- Group coaching sessions held via videoconferencing
- A forum or message board for group discussion and giving or receiving advice
- Group exercises/activities and learning opportunities
- Online course(s) or other content you created based on your coaching program
- One-on-one coaching interactions (may or may not be for an additional fee)
- A library of resources with information relevant to your clients
- Regular email or newsletter with relevant information, tips, etc.
Some of these may resonate with you and your coaching style, while others may not. As a coach, you have the freedom to design your group coaching program however it works best for you.
6 Benefits of Online Group Coaching
Although group coaching may not offer the individual attention that one-on-one coaching can offer, there are tons of benefits to participating in a group coaching session, including:
- Clients get a chance to hear about other people facing the same issues, gather ideas, and feel less alone
- The group can be its own support network, providing much-needed understanding and validation to group members
- Group members can share advice, tips, and techniques with one another
- Groups may form team identity, which can encourage them to greater participation
- Clients may find that the presence of other individuals with similar goals encourages a friendly competitiveness
- Group coaching encourages the practice of “people skills” including communication, conflict management, teamwork, and dealing with other group dynamics
Offline vs Online Group Coaching
Although much group coaching happens online, offline group coaching is still an option.
It is generally not as convenient for the coach or the clients, but it can be even more impactful for certain issues where communication and support are vital.
Individual Coaching vs Group Life Coaching
Life coaching is one area that can particularly benefit from group coaching, as life coaching clients are generally open to communication and group interaction in the service of meeting their goals.
Plus, life coaching clients often self-select, meaning that they frequently seek out and work with a coach that is geared towards helping clients like them. This makes it relatively easy to form groups based on a particular problem or issue.
If you’re interested in working with groups of life coaching clients, check out our success guide for Virtual Life Coaching.
9 Real-Life Examples of Virtual Group Coaching
There are numerous areas where virtual group coaching can work in real life; here is just a sample of the people that can benefit from group coaching:
- People struggling with an eating disorder
- People managing adult ADHD
- People with similar leadership aspirations
- People who want to work on their relationship building and maintenance skills
- People struggling with substance abuse
- People going through a divorce
- People trying to lose weight
- People working on improving their athletic or physical performance
- People who need spiritual support or guidance
This list is far from comprehensive, as group coaching can support a wide variety of people, but it gives a good idea of the range of issues and goals that group coaching can help with.
How To Do Online Group Coaching
If you want to start a group coaching program, you’ll need to start by asking yourself some questions.
Here’s a good starting list:
- What challenges or problems are you able to help your clients solve?
- How will you help your clients solve these problems? What is the process?
- Who is your ideal client for this group?
- What is the structure of your group program (e.g., ratio of sessions vs “homework” or other activities vs online content)?
- How will you facilitate group engagement?
Of course, there are a lot of other questions you’ll need to ask, but asking these 5 will help you get started on building out your program and help you hit the ground running.
Organizing and Structuring Your Sessions: 5 Tips
Once you’ve made some decisions based on the questions above, it’s time to think about how you want to organize and structure your sessions.
How long should your sessions be? How often will they be held? How much of it is you delivering information and how much of it is group members engaging?
These are all vital questions to answer as you work out your session structure.
Here are some further tips to guide you in developing the structure that works for you:
- Ensure the group of confidentiality; whatever is said in the group, stays in the group!
- Create good opportunities for collaboration among group members, like small group breakouts.
- Keep “groupthink” at bay with clever questions that keep everyone thinking critically.
- Fold in brainstorming opportunities to keep members engaged and creative.
- Consider using built-in questions to evaluate session effectiveness regularly (e.g., “What is a key insight you got in today’s session?” or “How helpful was today’s session for you?”)
Starting Your Online Group Coaching Program
So, you have your program developed and you’re ready to get started! But how do you dive in?
Here’s what you need:
- Intake forms and resources to get your clients up and running. (For ideas, see our Best Life Coaching Intake Forms article)
- A tool or platform for facilitating the video and/or telephone sessions (e.g., Zoom).
- A group of clients! You’ll need to build a group of individuals with similar challenges and goals who will benefit from this program.
- A tool for invoicing and collecting payment from your clients.
- A digital coaching platform for interacting with your clients and delivering content.
How To Price Your Program
Of course, you’ll also need to decide on some logistics, like how much your program will cost and how you will bill your clients.
The cost will depend on a few different factors:
- Are you offering any individual sessions as well, or just group sessions?
- What content will be included in your program?
- Does the program have a start and end date, or can clients filter in and out as needed?
- How many sessions will the program include?
Based on these factors, there are many different ways to price your program. You could decide on a onetime fee for program participation, or you could charge by the number of sessions, level of engagement, or even a “bulk price” for a specific number of sessions.
Best Digital Platform For Running Your Program
You have lots of options when it comes to a digital platform to help you run a coaching business. There are platforms that can help you with billing and invoicing, scheduling, messaging, client management, email campaigns, progress tracking, and a whole host of other activities.
However, there is only one platform that was specifically created to help you run a coaching program online, with special content delivery and client engagement features: Quenza.
6 Tools Included in Quenza Software
Quenza was designed with you in mind. It’s an invaluable online group coaching tool for anyone delivering a program digitally.
Here are a few of the tools and features that set Quenza apart from other platforms:
- The Activity Builder: the drag-and-drop activity builder allows you to create custom, practice-branded content for your clients, using text, images, audio, video, and a range of questions and data collection features.
- The Expansion Library: if you don’t have the time to create all of your own customized content, you can search the resource library for activities and exercises that meet your needs. You can even adapt them to your own needs.
- The Pathway Builder: once you have your content ready to go, you can use the pathway builder to create unique pathways to send your clients down based on their needs and goals. These pathways offer content, exercises, resources, and more in a particular order, and it can even be set up to deliver content automatically or on a schedule.
- The Chat Feature: you can conveniently communicate with your clients anywhere, anytime with the chat feature. You also have the option to turn it on or off for each client.
- The Client Profile: keep all the relevant information on your clients in one place, including contact information, session history, and notes.
- The Client App: the client app keeps your client engaged with notifications, reminders, and an easy way to check-in while on the go. It’s offered in 16 languages so far.
Resources & Tools: 12 Ideas and Topics For Your Sessions
Group coaching sessions will differ greatly depending on the purpose of the group, the specific coaching program, and the needs of the members.
However, there are some topics and ideas that apply to a wide range of groups, like:
- Communicating with impact
- Establishing a personal brand
- Enhancing executive presence
- Building your network
- Developing positive intelligence
- Leaning in
- Relationship building
- Enhancing your impact
- Conversational intelligence
- Championing ideas
- Managing up and leading down
- Making successful transitions
Not all of these topics will apply to you and your clients, but you can use them to guide your thinking and lead you to similar topics that work for your program.
5 Best Coaching Techniques To Apply
The techniques you use, like the topics of group sessions, may vary by group purpose and goal, but there are some techniques that are nearly universally valuable.
Here are a few of those techniques:
- Create a shared focus and shared expectations among group members. Establish the common ground, the focus, and what areas group members want to work on.
- Set individual and group goals. Help group members determine what they hope and expect to get out of this group coaching venture.
- Create group accountability. Guide the group in deciding what they’d like to be held accountable for, and how the group can provide that accountability.
- Facilitate concise communication. Carefully craft your communication, whether it’s verbal, written, and/or visual, and make space to hear from everyone in the group.
- Support the group process. Cultivate a deep understanding of group process issues and the particular group you are working with.
However you’ve designed your group coaching program, these 5 techniques will help you run an effective group coaching session.
Helpful Exercises and Activities
If you’re looking for coaching exercises and tools that you can use in your coaching sessions, these 3 are a great place to start. They offer some foundational learning and skill-building that will be helpful for just about any client:
- The Wheel of Life: this is a simple and easy-to-use tool that helps group members understand their satisfaction in several different life domains, like their physical health, their career, their family life, and their finances.
- Chessboard Metaphor: this activity will help clients understand and engage in greater mindfulness, viewing their thoughts and feelings as pieces on a chessboard—one that they have control over.
- Strengths vs. Weakness Focus: this exercise guides group members in trying a strengths focus vs. a weakness focus, and comparing their experiences with the two.
All of these exercises and activities can be found in Quenza’s Expansion library, and they are best assigned before a group session rather than completed during the session.
10 Questions To Ask Your Clients
Although once again, the right questions to ask will depend on you and your clients, there are many good general questions to ask to get things flowing.
Here is a sample of helpful questions:
- What are you best at doing?
- What do you wish you were better at?
- What talents do you have that you haven’t developed?
- What skills do you have that you are most proud of?
- What do others comment on most often as being your greatest strengths?
- What have you gotten better at that you used to be bad at?
- What are you just not getting better at, no matter how hard you try?
- The lack of which skills most gets in your way?
- What sort of people do you work best/worst with?
- What do you like to do the most?
6 Handy Templates and Forms
It’s great to design your own forms, but sometimes designing something from scratch simply isn’t worth the time and effort when there are already great options available to you.
These 4 helpful templates can help you with some of your basic paperwork and form needs:
- Group Coaching Design Template: this template will help you in the beginning stages as you design your group coaching program.
- Coach Feedback Form: with Quenza’s customizable template, pictured above, you can invite clients to evaluate your performance as a coach
- Coaching Intake Form: this template includes all the relevant information you need to know about your clients to bring them into your group program.
- Session Feedback Form: this form can be used by your clients to evaluate the sessions, giving you helpful feedback as you go.
Coaching Agreement Contract Template
It touches on several points that you’ll want to consider, including the coach-client relationship, the services clients can expect, and your policies on things like confidentiality, refunds, cancellations, termination, etc.
Another great digital option that you can customize, brand, and share instantly online with all your clients is Quenza’s Coaching Client Agreement, shown below.
Training in Online Group Coaching
Although online group coaching is becoming more popular, there aren’t many training options specifically for this purpose.
However, there are many ways to get training and build your skills in coaching in general! Read on to learn about a few of your options.
3 Best Certification Options
If you’re looking to get certified as a coach, your best bet is to go through the ICF.
The ICF is the most well-recognized and prestigious organization for coaching, and they offer a range of options for accreditation that can give you the credentials you need to demonstrate your value to potential clients.
The ICF can certify you as a:
- Associate Certified Coach (ACC): this will require that you complete at least 60 hours of coach-specific training, provide proof of at least 100 hours of client coaching experience, and engage in at least 10 hours of mentor coaching over the last three months or more.
- Professional Certified Coach (PCC): this will require that you complete at least 125 hours of coach-specific training, provide proof of at least 500 hours of client coaching experience, and engage in at least 10 hours of mentor coaching over the last three months or more.
- Master Certified Coach (MCC): this will require that you complete at least 200 hours of coach-specific training, provide proof of at least 2,500 hours of client coaching experience, and engage in at least 10 hours of mentor coaching over the last three months or more.
3 Courses and Online Opportunities
If you’re interested in a course or program to help you build your coaching skills, consider these options:
- Group Life Coaching Certification from Udemy
- Group Coaching Leader Certification from Coaching Institute
- Group Coach Practitioner Certification from Certified Coaches Federation
5 Books For Expanding Your Knowledge
If you’re ready to dive into more in-depth learning about group coaching, you’re in luck! There are several helpful and information-packed books available for purchase on the subject.
Give these books a try:
- Effective Group Coaching: Tried and Tested Tools and Resources for Optimum Group Coaching Results by Jennifer J. Britton
- From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching by Jennifer J. Britton
- Group and Team Coaching: The Secret Life of Groups by Christine Thornton
- Group Coaching: A Comprehensive Blueprint by Ginger Cockerham
- Group and Team Coaching: The Essential Guide by Christine Thornton
Group coaching is a great way to reach more clients, help more people, and enhance your brand as well as your income. It’s a great move for any savvy coach, but it can be complicated.
There’s a lot to think about before you start offering a group coaching program, and this guide will help you as you design your own unique program.
Make sure you start your $1 Quenza trial to put these tips into action and take your coaching practice to the next level!
- ^ Celestine, N. (2021). Organizing an effective group coaching session: 20 techniques. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from https://positivepsychology.com/group-coaching/
- ^ InspireShift. (n.d.). Group coaching & workshops. Retrieved from https://www.inspireshift.com/organizations/group-coaching-workshops/
- ^ Britton, J. (2019). Effective group coaching 101: The 5 key skills any group coach needs! Retrieved from https://www.thecoachingtoolscompany.com/effective-group-coaching-101-5-key-skills-group-coach-needs-jennifer-britton/
- ^ McBarron, E. F. (2021). 10 powerful team coaching questions. LinkedIn. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-powerful-team-coaching-questions-elaine-fitzgerald-mcbarron/