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5 Things Online Life Coaches Do

A young woman with long, dark brown hair in a ponytail is wearing a headset. She is sitting at a desk with a n open laptop and a hot drink. She is smiling and gesturing at the laptop as she is video calling with someone.


A question I’ve often seen asked is, what do online life coaches do? That is, how is online coaching different from face-to-face or in-person coaching? The truth is, what they do is not all that different. The biggest difference is in how they do it.

Firstly, to clarify, what I mean when I talk about online life coaching is coaching that happens over the internet, rather than with both coach and client sitting in the same physical space. This could be either one-to-one coaching or group coaching. What I’m not including are online programmes that are mostly self-paced with little interaction between coach and client. In this post, I'll go through five things online life coaches do, as well as some ways I, myself, work with clients online.

1. Online Life Coaching via Zoom or Skype

This is probably the most common form of online life coaching. Like with in-person coaching, coach and client meet for around an hour every week or two, but the session is held over Skype or Zoom rather than in a physical room.

Now, I’m sure that most of us have had video meetings over the last 18 months or so(!) but it’s something I started long before the pandemic and will continue long after, for a few reasons. As a coach, I can see and hear my client as well as if they were physically in front of me. This means my clients don’t have to travel to a physical space to see me. This has loads of benefits to my clients as it saves them time, money and energy. It also means being comfortable in your own home, which can help clients to open up and talk about challenging topics.

The fact I can see and hear my clients as well online as in person means I can still carry out an important part of coaching which is…

2. Listen to What You're Saying…and What You're Not

Life coaching is often thought of as a space for you to talk and for your coach to listen. While this is true, there is a particular way in which we listen. You may have heard that life coaches listen with a “skilled ear”, but what does this actually mean?

It means listening to the language you’re using. How are you talking about the current subject? Are there particular words or tones that we notice? What narratives are you using on the topic? Are there any apparent contradictions in what you’re saying? What you’re not saying can be as important. Are there words you’re not using or whole topics you’ve not mentioned?

Body language is also important. This is one area where online and face-to-face coaching may seem to differ slightly, in that only your face and upper half of your body are visible in online coaching. However, in practice, this doesn’t present much of an issue as your coach can still see gesticulations and facial expressions. According to information on online life coaching from the Life Coaching Directory, it may even be of a benefit as people tend to use more descriptive and vivid language online vs. in-person.

3. Help You Get Specific On What You Want

…on what you really, really want (sorry, couldn't resist!).

The most important thing for a life coach to do, online or not, is to help you get really specific on what it is you want from coaching. What is it that’s driven you to start searching around life coaching on Google? (or ecosia or Duck Duck Go…is Yahoo still a thing?).

In my opinion, this is one of the most important parts of the coaching process because, often, people know that they want to change, but they often don't know what that change will look like. What are the specifics of want you want and reeaalllyyy importantly, why? What will it mean for you (and maybe even those around you) if life goes on the way it is? What you may have an idea of is what you really *don’t* want – and that’s a great starting point. I have a free consultation session with all potential clients and a big chunk of that is getting really specific on what they want life to look like compared to how it is now, and the big WHY. Why is important, because it will help you maintain your motivation when things get challenging.

4. Online Life Coaching by Email

Some coaches conduct their online coaching exclusively through email. This means that questions and responses are typed out in a back and forth exchange between coach and client, following pre-arranged guidelines on the number of emails allowed and the timeframe for them to be sent in.

Some people like purely email based coaching as it gives them more flexibility over the timing of their coaching. This form of coaching can also suit those who prefer written communication over verbal.

While I don’t offer pure email coaching, I do offer it as an addition to face to face coaching as a check-in. This works by having a video coaching session with a client one week, at the end of which they decide on the actions they want to work on over the coming week or two. A week after the video session, I email my client to check how they’re getting on with their actions, giving them the chance to get some support with anything that’s been particularly challenging, as well as giving them the opportunity to celebrate anything that’s gone well. You can read more about the options I offer for coaching here.

Another benefit of email coaching between video sessions is it helps maintain momentum, letting clients tackle things ahead of our next video session together. This also means we can spend more of our next video session working on upcoming challenges.

5. Celebrate Your Wins!

Life coaching isn’t just about talking about what’s holding you back. It’s also a space for you to celebrate when you’ve done something that you found really hard – whether your coaching is online or in-person!

Celebrating wins is something I particularly love doing with clients. The whole reason people seek out coaching is because they want to do hard things - sometimes these things feel impossible - and it’s the main reason I became a coach in the first place (read more here about why I decided to become a coach).

To summarise, the difference between what an online life coach will do compared with an in-person coach is small. The difference is in how they coach - online coaches working primarily over video call and email. Through these, they can still help you get clear on what you want and why, listen with a skilled ear and celebrate with you when you’ve had a win! Read more about me and my coaching or check out what the Life Coaching Directory says about online life coaching.

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