A question that arises frequently in the arena of coaching is whether one can benefit from virtual coaching. Several years ago, I had my first one-on-one experience coaching via Skype internationally. I was surprised how well it worked and have experience much of the same since that point. Yes, it’s always nice to meet periodically face-to-face, however, I’m finding this isn’t an absolute necessity.
Virtual coaching works various ways, however, I prefer online video with occasional need to screen sharing. Webex is one tool I utilize, however, there are an abundance of others out there with today’s technology for little or no fee. The key being that it does need to be video. You’ve likely heard about studies prior that discuss the differences in effectiveness of written, verbal, and visual communication where visual is as much as 60% of the total means for communication. As we relate to one another, we need to be able to pick-up on each other’s facial cues which overall creates a much better experience of openness.
While one-on-one is a means of virtual coaching, I enjoy virtual group coaching. As a firsthand example, I’ll related my advisory boards. Yes, monthly, I sit around the “virtual” table with 8-10 members of an advisory board. Candidly, the experience I have with these 8-10 members is comparable to the one I have with 8-10 local members. The format of both meetings is exactly the same. We meet for 3 hours where the 1st hour consist of discussion of curriculum, the next 1 ½ hr is counsel and advise on members individual issues, and the last 30 mins is accountability report outs.
There are some real benefits to “virtual” coaching. By far, one key benefit is the reduction in travel time and expenses. As an example, with virtual coaching groups, we’re on and off the video in 3 hours. With the local group, some folks are traveling 45 mins – 2 hrs one way. So, where “virtual” is 3 hours, local group members have a minimum of a ½ day commitment and could be close to a day depending on travel distance. Sticking with this same topic, conflicts with attendance of meetings are far less an issue. I’ve sat on video numerous times with one individual who regularly travels and sits in his car in a parking lot for our meetings. If we weren’t virtual, there would be absolutely no way he’d be able to join our coaching group.
Another key factor in favor of virtual groups is since the members are normally outside your geography, they can more easily be in the same business without fear of competition. So, if you’re a CPA, who better to sit around the table than with 8 other CPA from across the nation. Additionally, in this circumstance, the curriculum can more easily be tailored to your particular industry.
Also, coming from one who has experiencing building coaching groups, it’s not easy building groups to their critical mass of 8-12 members. The concept of coaching groups, roundtables, forums, mastermind groups, etc isn’t new. So, locally, your network is limited and bumping up against other competitive opportunities. With virtual, geography is out of the picture, the possibilities become limitless.
Yes, many people still have issue getting past the thinking that coaching needs to take place face-to-face. For me, my encouragement would be that you give it a shot. It’s not for everyone, however, for most I’m associated, we’ve been tremendously satisfied.
Looking for a group? Don’t hesitate to reach out to further discuss.